By MIKE SHAFFER
For the Star Beacon
A season ago, the Lancers of Gilmour Accadamy won their first game of the season against Conneaut in their school's homecoming game. The Spartans nearly turned the tables on them in what turned out to be a double overtime heart clenching thriller Friday night at Conneaut Stadium.
Lancers quarterback Matt Botek hooked up with Chuckie Gallo on three straight passes. The first one went for 13 yards, the second one went to the endzone. The extra point was good to give Gilmour it’s second win of the season and leave the Spartans winless in seven tries.
"My heart goes out to Conneaut,” Gilmour coach Shawn Gilmour said. “Those kids really battled tonight, this was one fantastic football game, give them (Conneaut) a lot of credit, they are a much better team than their record indicates.
“These games are fun, but they hurt more,” Spartans coach Rocco Dobran said. “I keep telling these kids, keep doing what we do and we’re going to be fine. Believe in the system and things are going to work out. We have to to fix the mistakes and fix some little things. But our kids work ethic has been unbelievable, their dedication and commitment to the program is going to be what gets things turned around her
Early on, it appeared things would turn around for the Spartans as they took the opening kick-off and drove to inside the Gilmour ten yard line. A field goal attempt was no good however.
Gilmour took the ensuing possession and marched 80 yards scoring on a 25 yard touchdown run by Botek.
The Spartans came back in the second quarter when quarterback Troy Colucci took the pigskin in from 15 yards away to cap off a 65-yard drive. The extra point failed.
The Conneaut defense then forced Gilmour into a three and out and put the offense back on the field. This time Colucci went to the air as he completed passes to Tyler Cox and Alex Gerdes and had the Spartans in the red zone again. The Spartans could not convert on two tries from the two yard line and settled for a 22 yard field goal from Leith Alam to put the Spartans up 9-7.
The Spartans defense opened the second half impressively once again forcing Gilmour into a three and out. “On defense we wanted to bring a lot of pressure, we knew their quarterback could throw and run,” said Dobran. “We mixed up our coverage a lot.”
After a Conneaut drive stalled resulting in a punt, the defense got another three and out. This time the offense capitalized. Colucci scored his second rushing touchdown of the night, this time on a 43-yard scamper. “He’s a tailback that we put at quarterback. He’s making great decisions and he has great vision,”Dobran said. “He throws the ball well which keeps everybody honest. He’s only a sophomore and he’s going to be something special.”
The extra point was blocked to keep the score at 15-7.
It appeared the Spartans would maintain control of the game as the defense once again stuffed the Lancers offense. Then however it was the Lancers Gallo that took over. The 5-foot-11 junior intercepted a Colucci pass setting up the Lancers at the Spartan 14 yard line. Then he hauled in a 7-yard pass play for a touchdown. For good measure he also caught the pass for the two point conversion to tie the game.
“If that kid was just a couple of inches taller he’d have a lot of people knocking at his door,” Dodd said.
The Spartans regained control however on an impressive drive in which they went 89 yards in 5:45. R.J. Nelson carried the ball 5 times for 56 yards to his team down the field. “I never seen him run harder than he did tonight,” Droban said. “He was running through tackles, knocking people down, keeping his feet moving. I was real proud of him and for the job our line did”
Colucci capped the drive by scoring his third touchdown of the night on a one yard cary. The extra point followed to put the Spartans up 22-15.
The Gilmour offense however answered right back as this time Botek went to air hitting Brandon Luce on a 25-yard scoring play to cap a quick 4-play, 63-yard drive that tied the game. “They jumped into an empty (backfield) on us, he was able to move around to give his rcievers time to get open, we missed a couple of sacks and he did a good job”
The game went into overtime tied at 22. Both teams failed to score in the first session. Conneaut scored on a 5-yard run in the second ovetime but the kick was blocked. It was the second kick that the Lancers blocked and it proved to be the difference in the game.
Shaffer is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.
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