BERLIN CENTER - Western Reserve has prided itself on overpowering opponents all season long. Saturday night was no different as the Blue Devils pushed the Villa Angela-St. Joseph Vikings all over the field for a 33-6 first-round, Division VI playoff victory.
The first quarter was a bit of a stalemate with both teams trading punts. Donnie Bolton and the Western Reserve offensive line changed all that in a hurry. The senior running back broke off a 63-yard run with just under a minute to go in the frame. Following the break between quarters, Bolton plunged in from three-yards-out and the Blue Devils never looked back.
Before it was all said and done Bolton tallied 220 yards and surpassed the 2,000 yard mark on the season (2,141) with his breakout first quarter run.
"I owe it all to my line," Bolton said. "I just happen to carry the ball. We're blessed with big linemen who like to push people around."
Senior quarterback Jeff Clegg scored again in the second quarter from a yard out and a successful two-point conversion made the advantage 14-0. Following a Vikings fumble on a botched hand-off, Bolton again found pay-dirt from the one-yard line to give the Blue Devils a 20-0 lead.
Bolton was all over the field, even on special teams, blocking a punt right before half. The Blue Devils missed a field goal attempt or the first half damage could've been even worse.
The second half was more of the same. Tommy Marlowe found the end zone from 23-yards out in the third quarter to make it a 26-0 advantage. Marlowe finished with 78 yards on the ground.
In the fourth, Clegg found Thomas Benyo alone in the end zone from eight-yards out for another score to make the advantage 33-0. Clegg was an efficient 8-of-14 for 63 yards with no interceptions.
The Vikings first playoff appearance since 2003 was forgettable. The team's only score came late in the game on a pass from Anthony Sywanyk to Marvelle Ross after a long kickoff return put them in position at the Western Reserve 22.
Western Reserve had 406 total yards to the Vikings' 140 and had 20 first downs to VASJ's seven.
Bolton didn't mince words when it came to the team's playoff aspirations.
"State," he said. "We want to go to state. Tonight's a step in the right direction. We're all excited here. Hopefully we can keep it going."
Western Reserve will face Malvern (10-1) next Saturday night at a site to be determined.