To teams that aren’t accustomed to it, the 10:30 a.m. Saturday kickoff for football games at Concord is always a concern.
But Salesianum answered the early wake-up call , then put Concord to sleep with three quick touchdowns in the third quarter on the way to a 42-7 victory.
“I thought we played pretty well today. I was real happy,” Sallies coach Bill DiNardo said. “… Obviously, being used to playing on Friday nights, playing night football, playing a Saturday morning game is something that weighs on our heads.
“We talked about handling it, just putting it out of our heads and not letting it consume us. I thought that we came out ready to play.”
The Raiders (0-3) looked sharp on their opening drive, earning three first downs and moving 40 yards before turning the ball over on downs at the Sals 38. It didn’t take long for Salesianum, 3-0 and ranked second in Division I, to strike.
Matthew Sgro threw an 11-yard pass to Brian O’Neill. Troy Reeder rumbled for 42 yards. The Raiders were flagged for offsides, and Reeder gained 4 more before Daulton Gregory punched it in from the 1.
The Sals scored even faster on their second drive. Tyler Marroni returned a punt 41 yards, and Sgro completed a 27-yard toss to Michael Ziccarelli to set up the quarterback’s 3-yard touchdown run.
Concord put together another nice drive early in the second quarter, moving from its 25 to the Sals 17. But defensive back Louis Fedele jarred a potential touchdown pass loose, and Sallies took over on downs and quickly went 83 yards. O’Neill, the Sals’ 6-foot-7, 245-pound tight end-receiver, took a short pass from Sgro, broke a tackle and motored 46 yards to make it 21-0 at the half.
“Our game plan was very sound offensively and defensively, and our kids really executed it very, very well,” DiNardo said. “This is the first time that I think we took a step forward. Defensively, especially, we did a good job. We bent in some spots, but we didn’t break.”
The Sals broke completely away from the Raiders in the third quarter. Gregory found a hole off right tackle, picked up a beautiful block from O’Neill and turned the corner for a 74-yard score. Two plays later, Sals linebacker Patrick Keough intercepted a tipped pass and went 25 yards for another TD.
Then Marroni returned a punt 48 yards, and Evander Blue scored from the 12 to make it 42-0. Gregory had 75 yards on just two carries. Reeder picked up 64 on six carries, and Blue rushed five times for 49 yards.
“We’ve got some balance. We’ve got some nice running backs,” DiNardo said. “I think you’re seeing that it’s more than just Reeder and Daulton Gregory. We got a real good effort today from Evander Blue. He did a real good job with the first team.”
The Raiders had some nice moments, as Matt Mellette rushed 13 times for 61 yards and Mark Mellette carried four times for 42 yards. Concord’s only score came in the fourth quarter, as Elijah Davis made an outstanding diving catch on a 31-yard pass from Austin Coughenour.