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Cleveland Hill pays back old debt -- with interest Golden Eagles pile up 57 against St. Mary's

Cleveland Hill ran just two offensive plays for 5 total yards in the third quarter but still scored 13 points.

It was that type of Saturday afternoon for the defending Section VI Class C champions, who scored the first 50 points en route to a 57-12 nonleague demolition of visiting St. Mary's before about 900 on homecoming day.

"We had a lot of motivation because they beat us last year," said Golden Eagles senior quarterback Rhakeem Wiggins, referring to the Lancers' 21-20 triumph. "That was the talk in the locker room, that score last year. Today, we just got it done against them."

The No. 2 small school in The Buffalo News' poll struck from everywhere as three of its eight touchdowns covered at least 53 yards.

The Golden Eagles (5-0) scored on a blocked punt, an interception return and a kickoff return -- all coming after they had tallied the first 24 points.

"We played well on all three units," said Cleve Hill coach Glen Graham, in one of the understatements of all-time. "The guys were excited about playing today. I think this was a little bit special. St. Mary's beat us last year and the seniors remembered that and they just wanted to get back at them."

Pete Westbrooks scored on a pair of short runs in the first quarter, both times following bruising 230-pound junior fullback Ron Lawrence into the end zone. The Golden Eagles led, 16-0, after converting both two-point conversions before St. Mary's (3-2) finally got its offense into gear.

Quarterback Brandon Barczak completed four passes for 54 yards, engineering an efficient march that took the Lancers from their own 15 to the Cleve Hill 15. After two consecutive sacks by outsider linebacker Doug Chavers, who finished with a team-high 11 tackles, brought up fourth-and-19 from the 25, senior safety Kevin Washington intercepted Barczak's pass at the 1. That was the continuation of a big day for Washington, who blocked a first-quarter punt that set up Westbrooks' scoring run from the 2.

"That was huge," said Wiggins, who rushed 10 times for 94 yards and a score and completed 2 of 3 passes for 66 yards -- all without playing a down after intermission and despite arriving at the field about 25 minutes before kickoff after completing his SAT exams. "It totally swung things and was really the turning point for us."

Wiggins marched his team 99 yards on nine plays, the big strike a 53-yard pass on the right side to Washington, who had managed to create distance between himself and Barczak, who also starts at defensive back.

Wiggins ran untouched into the end zone from the 10 on the next play and the Golden Eagles were up, 24-0. Though just 2:04 remained before halftime, it was time enough for not one, but two more Cleveland Hill TDs.

Curtis Hairston blocked another St. Mary's punt and linebacker Josh Scheller took it in for a score with 58 seconds left. Following a Lancers fumble, Lawrence scored from the 1 on the final play of the half to make it 37-0.

"We've always worked really hard on special teams and there have been situations where they've won us games this year," lamented St. Mary's coach John Kling. "Two blocked punts and a kickoff return for a score, you just can't do that and expect to stay even close."

The kickoff return came on the first play of the second half, when Washington went 79 yards. "There were blockers all the way," he said. "That was all the front line. I had lanes and went."

Cleve Hill hit 50 midway through the third when Scheller returned an interception -- St. Mary's third turnover -- 97 yards. No plays, 13 points.

"Washington blocked for me and I just took it to the house," said Scheller, whose long gallop took him past the Lancers' bench. "Something like that takes away their momentum, knocks the wind right out of them."

Barczak threw for 114 yards, completing four to Jesse Kelso for 70 yards, and had one of his team's two rushing TDs. Washington took back three kickoffs for 119 of CH's 256 return yards.

e-mail: tborrelli@buffnews.com

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