GATES MILLS —
The Grand Valley Mustangs came out flat on Saturday afternoon, and then didn’t take advantage of scoring opportunities. The combination was a lethal one.
Gilmour Academy put two touchdowns on the board within the first four minutes of play, then kept the Mustangs out of the end zone enough times to hold on by a score of 21-8 in non-conference action.
After taking the opening kickoff, the host Lancers, who achieved their first victory after four losses, had a third-and-34 situation at their own 16-yard line. However, Matt Botek (9-of-19 for 200 yards) found Jack Hyland wide open deep on the right side. Hyland hauled in the pass and turned it into an 84-yard score.
“That definitely did (have an effect on us psychologically),” Grand Valley coach John Glavickas said. “But you know what? We came out flat. We had a breakdown in responsibility of who was supposed to cover who. And they capitalized on it.
“It always comes down here to who comes out and makes plays. And we didn’t make plays.”
After GV (2-3) went three-and-out, Benoit Mapango scooped a punt off the turf and returned it 46 yards to the Mustang 15. Botek hooked up with A.J. Wright (4 catches for 74 yards) for a 15-yard TD on the next play, and Gilmour led 14-0.
“(You shouldn’t) expect to come in here, and just because a team’s 0-4, think that you don’t have to play,” Glavickas said. “And unfortunately we spotted ’em 14 quick points within the first four minutes.”
It looked as though the Lancers might take it in again in the same quarter when Mapango returned a punt 29 yards to the GV 28. A first down and a personal foul quickly put the ball on the eight, but a penalty helped push it back to the 25. Gilmour did move to fourth down at the five, but Wright caught a tipped pass one yard short of the goal line.
The complexion of the game took quite a turn after that, although it would be a long time before the Mustangs could get on the scoreboard. Despite netting just two first downs in the first half, they had possession three times in the red zone. However, they came up empty on each occasion.
Following a Jason Hart interception in the second quarter, Tyler Drenski (8 carries for 73 yards) broke a 53-yard run down the left side to give GV a first-and-goal at the one. But three running plays went for a collective minus-four yards, and the Mustangs turned it over on downs following an incomplete pass.
Grand Valley got the ball back on the 12 on a Stanley Sirrine pickoff. After quarterback Jake Vormelker lost one yard on consecutive plays, he ran for eight yards to the six. But after an illegal procedure penalty, Kyle Orgovan was sacked on fourth down.
The Mustangs then dodged a bullet when Wright appeared to turn an alley-oop pass into a long scoring play, but it was nullified by offsetting personal fouls.
Following a punt and Hart return, GV took possession at the Lancer 25. It caught a break when a roughing-the-punter penalty gave it a first down at the 24 after having been nailed for losses on three straight plays, but on fourth-and-12, Vormelker’s scramble was two yards short.
Middle linebacker Conrad Geis was one player who was all over the field and constantly causing problems for GV.
“In the first half, (our) linemen were a little bit confused,” Glavickas said. “We were practicing all week against a 3-3 stack, and they started walking up that backer and it confused them a little bit. But we felt as though we made the adjustments we needed to make. It was just them coming out and executing. And we were out-executed today.
“That team played well enough to win. And that’s all they have to do. That’s the bottom line.”
With rain falling temporarily and helped by two penalties, Gilmour moved 53 yards on its first possession of the second half, with Mapango taking it in from 11 yards. The Lancers got the ball back and drove to the GV one-yard line, but this time it was the Mustangs’ turn to put on a goal-line stand, as they pushed the opposition back to the four, and then Hart blocked a Joe Catanese field-goal attempt at the 2:34 mark of the third stanza.
The Mustangs finally picked up their third first down on a 31-yard pass from Orgovan (8-for-23, 108 yards) to Hart. Then on fourth-and-4, Orgovan found Sirrine for 29 yards to the six. But again they came up short, as a one-yard run by Sirrine was followed by three incomplete passes.
“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Glavickas said. “We were in the red zone; we had the ball on the one-yard line at one point. And we couldn’t punch it in, we got the ball again around the five-yard line, we couldn’t punch it in. That was the story of the day. You just can’t do that. You can’t do that against a varsity team.”
The GV defense held, and finally the Mustangs would get on the board. Orgovan kept the possession alive with an 11-yard scramble on third-and-nine, and moments later Drenski took it in from one yard to cap a 36-yard, eight-play drive. Orgovan ran it in for two points to make it 21-8 with 7:31 remaining.
After getting the ball back, the Mustangs moved to a first down at the Gilmour 38, but were thwarted by a Frank Grk interception. A roughing-the-punter infraction helped the Lancers keep the ball until 1:30 was left.
As a result, the statistics broke down rather oddly. Gilmour, which had just 36 rushing yards, finished with 236 total yards, 140 of which came on its initial three possessions. Meanwhile, GV had just 32 total yards several minutes into the second half, despite picking up 53 on one play. However, it finished with 167.
“After those first two touchdowns, the defense did a great job,” Glavickas said. “But you cannot spot somebody 14 points, and then offensively not do anything.”
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.
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