Picking a good time

Defense lifts McDonald over Tigers

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo McDonald's Dominic Schadl, right, discovers the loose football after finishing the tackle of Springfield rusher Luke Snyder. Snyder was ruled down on the play. The Blue Devils forced three turnovers and held on to beat the Tigers, 20-17.

NEW MIDDLETOWN — Springfield was nearing midfield with about a minute remaining in the game.

Clayton Medvec needed about 20 more yards to put him in range for a field goal. He kicked a 40-yard field goal earlier with 10 yards to spare.

Brannon Brungard, who already had completed a 7-yard strike on fourth down to keep the drive going, wanted more than a field goal. The host Tigers have one of the better quarterbacks in the area in Brungard. He stepped back in the pocket, trying to avoid the defensive pass rush that had hounded him most of the night.

The pass was well over his intended receiver as McDonald defender Dominic Schadl was more of a target, laying out headfirst and corralling the errant pass. It was the third time Brungard was picked off in Friday’s 20-17 McDonald victory in a battle of previously unbeaten teams.

It couldn’t be like it was in Week 2 for McDonald, giving up 400 yards passing against Columbiana. Brungard couldn’t do that to this McDonald defense, which worked doggedly to improve.

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Springfield quarterback Brannon Brungard passes as McDonald's Kaden Crown puts his hand up to try to tip the ball. The Blue Devils picked off Brungard three times in their 20-17 victory.

Zach Gray saw the trickery Springfield (4-1, 0-1 Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference) tried late in the third quarter. The Tigers went on a reverse with a pitch back to Brungard. Gray adjusted, jumped high in the air and brought down the Brungard pass. He quickly maneuvered his way 30 yards into the end zone with 3:27 left in the third for a 20-10 lead.

“Zach read that,” said McDonald coach Dan Williams, whose team improved to 5-0, 1-0. “It was a double reverse and we’ve seen that on film. They run a little screen instead of a go with the tight end. Zach almost tackled the first guy that had the ball. He put the brakes on, backed out of there and jumped up and picked it off.

“Great athletic play by Zach. Schadl is a great athlete. We’re glad to have him back for a couple more years.”

Gray initially read a sweep.

“I kind of followed the guy, then Brungard pulled the ball and threw it,” Gray said. “I dropped back, jumped for the ball and got it.”

McDonald had its fair share of Alex Cintron and Josh Celli as the two combined for 40 carries for 261 yards. Cintron had 26 carries for 198 yards and two scores, while Celli had 14 carries for 73 yards. Cintron had a bulk of his yards on a 79-yard touchdown run in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.

Friday, it was about the Blue Devils’ athleticism and defensive pressure that crushed any hopes of Springfield staying undefeated on a night which included an hour and 20-minute weather delay.

The Tigers tried to run on McDonald, but only had 105 yards. Luke Snyder had most of the work with 15 carries for 103 yards and a fourth-quarter score with 7:07 remaining. He went off-tackle and took it to the end zone 40 yards away to cut the McDonald lead to 20-17.

The Blue Devils took five minutes off the clock in the next drive, but had to punt. That’s where Springfield took over on its own 20 with 2:27 left.

McDonald sacked Brungard before his fourth-down completion, just prior to the game-ended interception. Brungard was 14 of 23 for 105 yards and three interceptions.

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo McDonald’s Alex Cintron tackles Springfield rusher Luke Snyder as McDonald's Jack Bucan (22) and Dominic Schadl (5) follow the play. Snyder ran for 103 yards, but Springfield lost to the Blue Devils in a contest between two teams that were unbeaten entering the game.

“We were focused on taking away their run,” Williams said. “Not that we wanted Brungard to throw the ball around, but it worked out for us.”

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