The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

September 28, 2013

Eagles slay Dragons

Geneva blows out Lakeside in PAC clash

By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon

SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — Geneva football coach Tony Hassett didn’t think his men in the trenches controlled the line of scrimmage well enough in a loss to South a week ago. It was a point of focus leading up to the Eagles’ battle with Lakeside on Friday night at Lakeside Stadium.

Hassett was much happier this week following Geneva’s 49-6 victory over the Dragons.

“I thought last week the offensive line did not get the job done,” Hassett said. We challenged them tonight, from the first play, to get it done. They did a tremendous job, for the most part.

“In the second half, Lakeside moved the ball, but it’s tough to hold that intensity. On the other side of that, (Lakeside coach) Frank (Hall) is doing a great job.”

“That’s clearly the best team in Ashtabula County,” Hall said. “Easily the best team in the county.”

The Eagles (3-2, 1-1 in Premier Athletic Conference) dominated the line of scrimmage on defense, holding Lakeside (2-3, 0-2) to minus-1 total yard — minus-16 rushing — in the first half.

“Our defensive ends did a great job of not allowing (Lakeside quarterback Tyler) Loftus to get to the outside,” Hassett said. “Our tackles (Matt) Kozlowski and (Jason) Huelskamp did a great job in the middle.”

“It’s a simple game, you block and you tackle,” Hall said. “As much of the offense that is spread out and the fancy gadgets, what it comes down to at all levels is you’ve got to block and tackle. We didn’t do either very well tonight.

“That’s the best defensive line we’ve played all year. They have great tackles who get off the ball and they got after us all night. That makes it tough to pass or run the football.”

The Eagles started all seven of their first-half possessions near midfield and scored on the first five to go into the locker room with a 35-0 lead.

After a dropped pass that would have gone for big yardage on the opening play, Geneva quarterback came back and scampered 58 yards for a touchdown.

“We talked all week about technique and positioning,” Hall said. “We were chasing No. 33 (Geneva running back Aaron Rossi) all over the field and not playing our positions. We’ve got to be smarter than that.

“We have to play our positions and stay within ourselves. That’s the opposite of what we did. That’s on us as coaches. We’ve got to make sure we’re better prepared.”

Nearly five minutes later, Austin Clutter ran 15 yards for a 14-0 lead with 5:58 to play in the opening period. With just under a minute to go in the quarter, Pakkala hit Travis Blake for a 39-yard score and the Eagles led, 21-0.

“One thing, last year we were one dimensional,” Hassett said. “This year we have Pakkala, Blake, Rossi, Clutter and Shane Herter. If you take one of them away, we can go to someone else. That’s helped tremendously this year.

“They have to guard against multiple weapons.”

Rossi broke through for a 34-yard scoring run to give the Eagles a 28-0 lead with 10:24 to play in the half then Pakkala connected with Blake for a 55-yard score less than two minutes later as Geneva led, 35-0, at the break.

“Pak threw the ball well tonight and Travis did a great job catching the football,” Hassett said. “Travis has had a catch for a long gain or a touchdown in every game. Aaron ran the ball well tonight.”

Rossi finished with 147 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries while Pakkala added 83 yards and a score on nine attempts. Pakkala was also 4-of-8 passing for 137 yards and three touchdowns. Blake had three catches for 132 yards and two scores.

Clutter added a 5-yard touchdown catch and Herter scored on a 4-yard run in the second half for Geneva.

The Dragons found a way to move the ball in the second half, at least through the air. Loftus wound up with 151 yards and a touchdown on 10-of-24 passing.

Nick Meola had six receptions for 97 yards and a score, all in the second half.      

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.