STEUBENVILLE — Mike Flannery said his Pilots are still trying to figure out if they are a running team or passing team.
Well, they were pretty good at both Saturday night at Harding Stadium.
The Pilots (1-1) utilized a two-quarterback system and racked up a total of 231 passing yards and three scored through the air, while rushing for 186 yards and three more scores, en route to a 42-14 victory over Catholic Central Saturday on Reno Field at Harding Stadium
“Not having a scrimmage hurt us (in Week 1),” Flannery said. “We got better in the second half last week, so we just needed to get things going (Saturday). I’m real proud of our kids, we were good in all phases of the game and that’s hard to do sometimes.
“We’re still looking for what kind of identity we have, whether we’re running team or a throwing team. We’re trying to find stuff that will throw people off a little bit, but we worked on things we needed to work on for tonight and our kids responded.”
For Catholic Central (0-2) head coach Anthony Agresta, who’s team gave up the first 42 points before finding the end zone in the fourth quarter, the start to the season has been a rough one for his young squad.
“There’s a lot of cliches out there, and they really don’t mean a thing,” Agresta said of the slow start. “We’re extremely young. We’re starting freshmen and sophomores on the offensive line. We have nine people playing two ways, two of the seniors starting for us have never played varsity football before. Those aren’t excuses, but this is the reality of what we’re kind of processing through right now.
“We caught two real-good football teams the first two weeks. That didn’t help in the maturation process. We’re just looking for our kids to grow. We saw a few better things than we did last week, but don’t misinterpret that as we’re pleased because that is not the case.”
The Crusaders went three-and-out on each of their first three drives, with the first of three interceptions ending the fourth Central drive. On the flip side, the Pilots scored on three of their four first-quarter possessions, making it a 21-0 hole for the Crusaders after the first 12 minutes.
“Steubenville Catholic is real young,” Flannery said. “That is what happens when you’re young sometimes. I’ve been there and done that. I compliment them. We studied a lot of film on them, and we were concerned, but we came out of the gates quick and never stopped.”
River sophomore Brody Lollathin fired two of his three touchdown passes in the opening quarter, while also catching two passes for 9 yards. His first strike went 15 yards to Michael Johnson to cap the Pilots first drive, then his second was a 49-yard dime to Jake Rose who got behind the Crusader secondary.
“Their running back is big and strong and fast. They have receivers and a secondary that can make plays,” Agresta said of the Pilots. “It’s not just the quarterbacks that can hurt you. It wasn’t anything we didn’t prepare for, but when their kid is better than your kid, they’re going to throw the ball up there and make a play. That is just the reality. They are a good football team that could make a run in the playoffs.
“My concern has to be the maturing of our young players. Since everyone is in the playoffs, we would sure like to see some real strong growth happen in the next two or three weeks.”
Lollathin finished 10 of 14 for 189 and three scores. Freshman Kabel Isaly went 5 of 9 for another 42 yards.
“That was the plan going in, to play them both,” Flannery said. “They both put on some nice throws.”
Carter Dennis, who led the Pilots’ ground attack with 67 yards and a score on five carries, ended the first quarter with a 38-yard touchdown run after a Central drive ended in a pick.
Central got its first first down of the game on its first drive of the second quarter and, aided by two personal fouls on the Pilots, moved into the red zone. Chase Lawrence, however, stepped in front of a Ryan Gorman pass inside the 10-yard line to end the Crusaders’ best scoring threat of the half.
Seven plays later, Johnson broke free for a 26-yard scoring run before Lawrence hauled in a 15-yard touchdown pass from Lollathin to make it a 35-0 River lead at the break.
Avery Creamer added a 4-yard scoring run on the first River possession of the second half to cap the Pilots scoring.
Gorman (5 of 15, 63 yards, 47 rush yards) gave Agresta something to build off of for Week 3 with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. He broke free and maneuvered through the Pilots defense for a 20-yard scoring run. Then, on the next drive after a Pilots fumble, he connected with senior tight end Vince Carapellotti for a 6-yard touchdown to cap the scoring.
“Absolutely the late touchdowns are important,” Agresta said. “The kids are working hard. You need those things to honor their effort and and their work ethic. It’s always important to build confidence. Central kids are always going to play hard.
“It’s two bitters pills to swallow the first two weeks, but there’s two ways to look at that. You can put your tail between your legs and pout about it, or you can use those things to help make you better — and I can promise you that we’re going to do the latter.”
River: Travels to take on Monroe Central in Week 3.
Catholic Central: Returns home on a short week to host 1-1 Connotton Valley, who fell to Edison Friday, in a Thursday night showdown.
(Grimm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
River 42, Catholic Central 14
River 21 14 7 0 — 42
Catholic Central 0 0 0 14 — 14
R — Johnson 15 pass from Lollathin (Hocutt kick)
R — Rose 49 pass from Lollathin (Hocutt kick)
R — Dennis 38 run (Hocutt kick)
R — Johnson 26 run (Hocutt kick)
R — Lawrence 15 pass from Lollathin (Hocutt kick)
R — Creamer 4 run (Hocutt kick)
C — Gorman 20 run (Rook kick)
C — Carapellotti 6 pass from Gorman (Rook kick)
RUSHING: River 29 -186-3TD (Dennis 5-67-TD; Lollathin 3-2; Johnson 1-26-TD; Isaly 3-3; Creamer 3-34-TD; Mozena 7-34; Bowers 4-17); Catholic Central 19-95-TD (Mullins 12-42; Gorman 5-47-TD; Lamatia 2-6).
PASSING: River 15-23-231-3TD (Lollathin 10-14-189-3TD; Isaly 5-9-42); Catholic Central 5-15-63-TD-3INT (all by Gorman).
RECEIVING: River 15-231-3TD (Lollathin 2-9; Johnson 1-15-TD; Rose 3-92-TD; Dennis 1-8; Long 2-15; Lawrence 3-75-TD; Longwell 2-13; Thompson 1-12); Catholic Central 5-63-TD (Hough 1-7; Toriscelli 1-8; Carapellotti 3-48-TD).
FIRST DOWNS: River 12; Catholic Central 6.
PENALTIES-YARDS: River 8-70; Catholic Central 3-20.
FUMBLES-LOST: River 2-1; Catholic Central 0-0.
PUNTS: River 0-0; Catholic Central 5-24.2.