By STEVE GOLDMAN
GATES MILLS —
The Edgewood Warriors used two early touchdowns to get off to a two-score advantage. Then in many ways, it was like playing keepaway with the lead. Which they did successfully, with the help of two 80-yard touchdown drives in the second half.
The Warriors (6-3) piled up 367 yards on the ground and used it to hold off a Gilmour Academy squad that was able to show some offense of its own on its home turf, with the final verdict coming by a 33-24 score on Saturday afternoon in non-conference action.
Quarterback Louie Wisnyai ran for 158 yards and three scores in 15 carries, and Dylan McCaleb piled up 148 yards and the other two Edgewood touchdowns in 21 attempts. Riis Smith, who entered with 563 rushing yards, missed the second half with a neck injury.
“Louie and Dylan ran the ball real well,” Edgewood coach Dominic Iarocci said. “It’s good to have a quarterback over 100 yards and a running back over 100 yards — real good.”
“I’m very disappointed in the way that they were able to run the football on us,” Gilmour coach Shawn Dodd said. “We’re a better team than we showed today. We’ve got some guys out, but there are no excuses. I’m most proud of our offensive line today. I thought our offensive line did a great job.
“Give credit to them. They were able to run the ball, and we couldn’t stop them.”
Meanwhile, with the Lancers (3-5) missing all three running backs as well as their emergency back, they used an empty backfield, with quarterback Matt Botek handling all the runs except for one, in addition to all the passing. Botek finished with 108 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries, and also completed 18-of-31 passes for 218 yards and one TD, but threw two interceptions.
“Botek’s our guy,” Dodd said. “He’s a great player for us. He can throw the ball and he can run the ball. He had 30 carries two weeks ago for us also. He’s just a tough player. I can’t say enough about him.”
“I’m pleased with our offense; I’m pleased with how we ran the ball,” Iarocci said. “I’m not very pleased with our defense, especially our pass defense. I think we’ve got to shore that up. (But) I was real happy with the way we ran the ball — especially with Riis Smith missing the second half with an injury.”
A 63-yard run by McCaleb on the first play from scrimmage set up Wisnyai’s 2-yard touchdown two plays later. After a 32-yard field goal by Joe Catanese cut the lead to 7-3, Smith intercepted a pass. Three plays afterward, Wisnyai escaped down the right side for a 65-yard score.
A four-yard run by Botek cut it to 13-10 just 2:56 before the break. The sides then exchanged punts, with Gilmour’s being a nine-yard shank out of bounds at its own 45 with 57 seconds on the clock.
The Warriors’ only two completions from scrimmage came next — an 11-yard pass from Wisnyai to Josh Vass and a 33-yard toss from Wisnyai to Smith, who got out of bounds at the 1. McCaleb took it in on the following play to provide a 19-10 halftime lead.
“The one before the half was really the game-changer,” Dodd said. “That was the one that really hurt us.”
Following the second-half kickoff, Gilmour marched 64 yards in 10 plays, all on the ground, eating up almost half the period. Botek finished it with a four-yard run that cut it to 19-17.
However, the Warriors answered immediately. They went 80 yards in 12 plays, with McCaleb taking it in from the four. Wisnyai, who threw only five passes on plays from scrimmage, hooked up with Anthonie Magda for a two-point conversion that once again made it a two-score differential, at 27-17, with less than a minute left in the quarter.
“The offense came back (after each time Gilmour cut the deficit to one score),” Iarocci said. “We need to shore up a little bit on defense.”
The Warriors’ defense did hold Gilmour to a three-and-out on the next possession, but following a fumble, the Lancers drove 59 yards to the Edgewood 11. However, the defense stiffened with the help of a Kameron Manhard, and the Warriors took over on downs.
Edgewood then duplicated their earlier second-half success, once again going 80 yards in 12 plays, this time overcoming two 10-yard penalties, which were their only infractions of the contest. Wisnyai sneaked it in from three yards, capping a possession of almost seven minutes, putting it away at 33-17 with 1:07 left.
Botek hit Ryan Conry for a three-yard score as time expired.
“This is a tough place to play,” Iarocci said, pointing out the adjustment of playing on a Saturday afternoon. “Our goal is to win out and see what happens in the playoff picture.”
Jack Hyland had eight receptions for 97 yards for the Lancers.
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.
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