Pictured above, Old Forge quarterback Colin Carey pulls away from the Holy Cross defender on his way to a 43-yard touchdown run. Below left, Dave Argust looks upfield after haulng in his 27th catch of the season. Below right, Lou Febbo explodes through the HC defense on his way to a 40-yard run during the Blue Devils 40-14 victory.photos by BILL TARUTIS
Old Forge wide receiver Mike Vieira makes a first-down catch against Holy Cross. Vieira caught a career-high seven passes for 102 yards in the 40-14 victory.photo by BILL TARUTIS
Playing its second Monday game of the season, the Old Forge football team decided to start Halloween early as it continued to give its fans treats without any needed tricks.
The Blue Devils bagged another victory over Holy Cross, 40-14, in front of a good crowd on a crisp Halloween afternoon at St. Anthony’s Playground in Dunmore.
The victory assured Old Forge a share of the Lackawanna Football Conference Division III crown, and a return trip to the District 2 Class 1A playoffs. It also extended a five-game winning streak over the Crusaders which has seen the Blue Devils outscore the five-year old school, 192-26.
The Blue Devils did get a scare early though on All Hallow’s Eve when Crusaders tailback Joe Merli scampered 19 yards to give the home team a 7-0 lead after Louis Gianacopolis had returned a Colin Carey interception 38 yards during the Blue Devils’ opening possession.
Old Forge answered quickly with its tailback tandem of Lou Febbo and Brian Tomasetti running for 48 yards on five plays before Tomasetti ripped off a 20-yard touchdown run, untouched around the left side of the Blue Devils line. Matt Mancuso added the first of three extra-points on the day, and the game was tied 7-7 with 6:56 left in the opening stanza.
The Crusaders looked like they would make the game a shootout as Merli ripped off runs of 14 and 10 yards to put Holy Cross into Old Forge territory. Merli – one of five Old Forge residents in the starting lineup for the Crusaders – finished the game with 90 yards on 25 carries, but only gained 42 of those yards after his first five carries of the game netted him 48 yards.
However quarterback Rob Heyen gained nine yards on fourth-and-3 later in the drive, and added another five yards to go with a five-yard facemask penalty on the Blue Devils to give Holy Cross fourth-and-5 from the Old Forge 19.
But with the Crusaders knocking on the door, sophomore linebacker Shane Schuback closed it quickly. Making his first start at outside linebacker, Schuback recorded a career-high 10 tackles, including stopping Patrick Hagan, one-on-one, for a 1-yard loss on a reverse to turn the ball back over to the Blue Devils.
Old Forge punted on its next possession, but after stopping Holy Cross for the second straight series, the Blue Devils went back to Febbo and the senior delivered.
The diminutive tailback broke free on an off-tackle play and sprinted 85 yards down the Old Forge sideline to paydirt, giving the Blue Devils a 15-7 lead after he powered in for the two-point run with 7:57 left in the second quarter.
The Big Blue Wrecking Crew forced its first three-and-out of the afternoon, and two Carey passes to Mike Vieira for 41 yards set up Febbo’s second touchdown of the game – a nine-yarder to give Old Forge a 22-7 lead with 5:30 left in the half.
Vieira then got into the act on defense.
With Holy Cross driving to the Blue Devils 34, Vieira made an acrobatic interception of a Heyen pass to give the ball back to Old Forge at its own 15.
Carey hit Vieira twice for 21 yards, and Anthony Piccolini for 11 yards to get the Blue Devils into Holy Cross territory. The senior quarterback then found Dave Argust for six yards before calling his own number for a 43-yard touchdown run with 55 seconds left in the second period. Febbo added the two-point run and Old Forge led 30-7 at halftime. Carey was involved on every play in the seven-play, 85-yard drive, going 4-for-5 for 38 yards passing, and running for 47 yards on two carries.
Holy Cross stopped the 30 unanswered point streak with 13-play, 60-yard drive, capped by a 1-yard plunge by Heyen to start the third quarter. Hagan’s PAT cut the deficit to 30-14, but the Crusaders would get no closer. Heyen finished with 81 yards on 18 carries for HC.
Old Forge answered with Carey, Febbo and Vieira doing the damage.
Carey ran for nine yards on first down before Febbo gained six on second to put the Blue Devils into HC territory. Carey then hit Vieira on an out for 11 yards, and Argust across the middle for 17 before Febbo rushed another nine to the Crusaders 5.
Vieira capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown reception on a diving catch just inside the endzone to put Old Forge ahead 37-14. The drive traveled 57 yards and took only 1:38 off the clock as the Blue Devils clicked on all cylinders during the six-play sequence.
Two plays later, Schuback returned his second interception of the season 51 yards to the HC 9. Old Forge settled for a field goal attempt, and Mancuso drilled his fourth three-pointer of the season for the final margin of victory, 40-14.
Febbo finished with 196 yards on 20 carries for the Blue Devils, and Vieira led the receiving corps with a career-high seven catches for 102 yards. Carey ended the day 11-for-16 for 135 yards.
Defensively, middle linebacker Anthony Trotta led a trio of Blue Devils with double-digit tackles with 14 stops, including two for losses. Sophomore Jorden Sekol also added 10 tackles for Old Forge to go with Schuback’s 10. Schuback also added a sack and three TFLs to his defensive totals.