If Cameron Skornia is this good with two bad ankles, the rest of the Class 3 District 3 football teams better hope he doesn’t get healthy soon.
Skornia torched Buffalo for 260 rushing yards in just over a half of play to lead top-seeded Catholic to a 36-0 victory over the Bison on Thursday night at Swisshelm Field.
“He’s been battling that ankle all year long and I thought he ran hard, ran smart and protected himself when he had the opportunities to do so,” Catholic coach Bobby Cornelison said. “The guys up front were just mashing them, too. We had some really good downfield blocks on some of those runs as well.”
Catholic (8-2) advances to a semifinal matchup with fourth-seeded Eldon, a 12-7 winner over Ava, at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Swisshelm Field. Buffalo finished 1-9.
Skornia didn’t wait long to prove he could handle the rushing chores despite a pair of high ankle sprains. The senior had runs of 38, 31 and 11 yards on Catholic’s opening four-play drive, the last resulting in a 7-0 Fightin’ Irish lead.
He added a 2-yard score later in the first quarter and a 68-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter in racking up 252 yards on 18 carries in the first half.
Catholic led 29-0 at halftime and put the game out of reach early in the third quarter. Skornia busted loose on an 81-yard kickoff return to open the second half and scored on an 8-yard run two plays later at the 11:32 mark. He came out of the game at the point.
“I’m trying to get back to 100 percent and I took another step this week,” Skornia said. “I could tell they aren’t 100 percent because I think I could have scored on the kickoff if I could have made a couple more cuts.”
The Fightin’ Irish have been decimated by injuries in recent weeks — at least three starters are likely done for the season — but have continued to battle.
Skornia was not the only Catholic star playing injured Thursday night. Senior defensive end Nick Perryman wore a cast on his left hand, but created a lot of havoc in the Buffalo backfield. Perryman had five tackles for loss, forced two fumbles and sacked the quarterback three times. He had a safety on a sack in the second quarter.
“We’re pretty nicked up, that’s for sure,” Perryman said. “We’ve had to replace lots of our players. We are trying to not be too high or too low and just take things as they come.”
Catholic gained 323 yards on the ground, while benefiting from a sporadic but effective passing game that seemed to click with the wind. Quarterback Eric Smith was 3-for-9 for just 58 yards, but the bulk of that came on a pair of fourth-and-long conversions with the wind at his back early in the game.
Defensively, the Fightin’ Irish front four dominated much of the night. Catholic held the Bison to just 70 yards rushing and forced four turnovers and a safety.
“It was really good to get some experience for some of those guys,” Cornelison said. “The (new starters) are coming along and we stayed home a lot better tonight.
“Buffalo scores off big plays and we had to keep them in front of us and make them earn their yards. “