When Beallsville started the football season 0-4, some wondered why Paul Kanzigg took the Blue Devils' job.
After a 35-14 victory over St. John Central Saturday afternoon at a wet Irish Youth Sports Complex in south Bellaire, the Big Blue finished with five wins in its last six contests to finish 5-5 - the lone loss to undefeated Shadyside.
"I feel this was a successful season," said Kanzigg, who succeeded long-time Blue Devils' head coach, and good friend, Dave Caldwell. "We had a little higher hopes, but when you consider the injuries we had. At a small school like we are, when you take out a key player here and there and have to shuffle people around, it affects the way the whole team plays.
BEALLSVILLE’S Ricky Tubaugh tries to break a tackle of St. John Central’s Dario Paolina after a reception during the first half of their game Saturday afternoon in Bellaire. The Blue Devils capped a 5-5 season with a 35-14 victory. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"But to these kids' credit, they stepped up and got the job done for the most part," he added. "A positive we can take from the injuries is the fact that we have a lot of younger kids that got some valuable experience this season."
St. John Central scored first when D.J. Shoemaker swept around his right end on a quarterback keeper. Shoemaker got to the corner and used sealing blocks by Nick Cervelli and Darren Palmer to reach the sidelines and eventually the end zone. Dario Paolina split the uprights to give the Irish (4-6) a 7-0 lead with 1:30 left in the first quarter.
It didn't take Beallsville long to get going in the second quarter, and when the Big Blue did, they did it in a big way by tallying 35 of the 42 points scored in the second 12-minute stanza.
"We struggled early on, but we came on strong in the second quarter," Kanzigg noted. "The first quarter was a little shaky. We moved the ball, but we also turned it over. I kept telling them that we need to just keep plugging away, and they re-grouped real well."
Senior quarterback Teryn Jarrett triggered the outburst with three touchdown passes and one running six-pointer.
The gunslinger found workhorse Bruce Sefert in the right flat and he found the end zone from 14 yards out. Mason Campbell knocked the first of his five PATs through the uprights for a 7-all count.
St. John Central shot itself in the foot on the ensuing possession when a snap over Shoemaker's head in shotgun rolled to the Irish eight where a hustling Sefert pounced on it.
Two plays later, Sefert bulled his way into the end zone behind Kyle Groves, Dalton Sechrest and Val Wallace. Campbell made it 14-7 with 11:52 on the first-half clock.
The Irish didn't roll over the die as Shoemaker lofted the ball down the left hash where Alex Francis caught it in stride in the end zone for a 24-yard connection. Paolina knotted things at 14 with 6:21 left in the half.
Keying the drive was a 54-yard halfback pass from Francis to John Alvey that moved the deep into Beallsville territory.
That's when the Blue Devils seemed to say that's enough as they ripped off 21 unanswered points in the final five minutes.
Jarrett, who concluded his outstanding 4-year career, found Ricky Tubaugh down the left sideline and Tubaugh sprinted the distance for a 68-yard hookup.
After forcing the Irish to a three-and-out, the Big Blue was back at work. Starting at their own 45, the Blue Devils needed a mere two plays to go the distance as Jarrett hit Devin Lippencott for 34 yards before finding Tubaugh in the right flat for a 21-yard scoring play.
A perfectly executed onside kick caught St. John Central napping as Beallsville recovered. A pair of Jarrett screen passes to Lippencott and Sefert gained 32 and 14 yards, respectively, to set up a first-and-goal from the three. Jarrett needed two carries to reach the promised land to cap the scoring.
Neither team seriously threatened in the second half, which was playing in a steady rain.
Jarrett finished 15 of 31 for 371 yards. That gave him 2,411 yards this season and the three TDs left him with 22. He is just one of a handful of Ohio Valley quarterbacks to surpass the 6,000-yard mark.
Tubaugh landed half-a-dozen passes for 204 yards and two TDs. Sefert, Lippencott and D.J. Lucas all grabbed three. Sefert also ran for a game-high 79 yards on 19 trips.
Shoemaker went 6-for-22 for 160 yards. Francis caught three for 86 and a TD.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak by the Irish, but it didn't do anything to dishearten first-year head coach Jason Merryman.
"I thought the kids played with a lot of heart today," Merryman said. "They (Beallsville) caught us in a couple of formations that I hadn't seen before and we got burnt. At halftime, we made some changes and they worked, but it was a case of being a little too late.
"I told my eight seniors that they are the foundation for what we are trying to build here. You need a strong foundation to have a strong building, and I look at each one of those eight seniors. They are why we are here and for what we've done to be successful.
"I don't really think we were a surprise team because we expected to compete and play hard each week, and the kids did that for the most part every week. We were in every game we played."
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