The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

October 5, 2013

Spartans slay Knights

Conneaut cruises to fourth win

CONNEAUT — The Conneaut Spartans have learned how to win football games this year. They have won games, even when not everything went the way it was supposed to.

Such was the case Friday night when the Spartans defeated the Cleveland Knights, 35-14 at Conneaut Stadium.

“We have confidence now,” senior linebacker R.J. Nelson said. “We play as a team now. That was a problem we’ve had here the last three years that I’ve been here. We had a whole bunch of individualism. We had linemen that wanted to be running backs.

“Now, everything is coming together and we have all the pieces of the puzzle together.”

The Spartans won their third-straight game despite having an interception run back for a touchdown, having two kicks blocked and being stopped on fourth and goal from the Knights’ 1 yard line.

“It was good for us to struggle a bit tonight,” Conneaut coach Rocco Dobran said. “At halftime, I felt like if the kids could come out and keep doing what we’d been doing, we’d be OK. (The Knights) only had 17 players, so I figured eventually we’d wear them down. But it was definitely a good lesson for us to learn tonight. It’s not always easy, you have to handle adversity when you don’t get in the end zone or you give up a pick-6.”

The win gives the Spartans a record of 4-2. It is the first time Conneaut has been 4-2 since 2001.

“It feels great,”Dobran said. “You never know where you are going to be at the beginning of the season. You have high expectations, but you never know especially after two tough years. You just hope the kids buy in and at this point they have totally bought in. The most important thing is they are playing as a team.

“They do not care who is getting the touches, they don’t care if the offensive line gets credit or not. They are just playing as a team and I think they are going to just keep building on that concept.”

The Spartans offense opened impressively with an eleven play 72 yard drive capped by a five yard touchdown run by quarterback Troy Colucci. The junior once again led the Spartans offense by rushing for 114 yards including two touchdowns. He also completed 5 of 11 passes for 127 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

His only mistake of the night came in the first quarter when a pass was intercepted by the Levi Bost for the Knights. Bost took the interception back 72 yards for the score. Cleveland then converted a 2-point play for an 8-6 lead. The interception was just the second thrown by Colucci this season.

The Knights later returned the favor though turning the ball over on a fumble at their own five yard line. Nelson fell on the loose football to set the Spartans up first and goal. On the next play Colucci found Alex Gerdes across the middle for a five yard touchdown pass.

 The Spartans were driving for more late in the first half. On third and goal from the 10 yard line, Colucci scrambled for 9 yards setting up fourth and goal from the 1. He called his own number again, but the Knights defense nailed him in the backfield for a loss of 5.

The Knight offense was on the field for only 13 plays in the first half, but the defense was able to keep the Knights close.

“I’m a defensive-minded coach,”  Knights coach Duane Smith said. “I preach defense all the time, so the way our guys stepped up tonight, I was very proud of them.”

The Knights (4-2) tied the game in the third quarter when quarterback Tracy McGee hooked up with Isaih Johnson on a 45-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-15 play.

Conneaut responded right back, though, as Colucci found Gerdes once again on a 45-yard pass play of his own to put the Spartans back in front.

“Gerdes has become our leading receiver as far as total yards are concerned,” Dobran said. “He has really helped Troy be able to stretch the field and thus open up a lot of things for us.”

The Knights threatened to tie the game again though in the fourth quarter. Running back Santay McPherson broke loose for a 540yard run to give the Knights a first down at the Conneaut 11.

The Spartan defense, however, was able to dig in and prevent them from advancing any further.

“They can drive the ball all they want,” Nelson said. “It’s the last 10 yards that matter. I’m really proud of our guys tonight for the way they stepped up.”

Upon getting the big stop from the defense, Colucci put the game away on the ensuing drive, when he raced 55 yards for a touchdown to give the Spartans a two-possession advantage.

Isaiah Ngraingas capped the great night for Conneaut with a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Shaffer is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Danielle Zip-ing along

    Just minutes after Geneva’s Danielle Nicholson holed out on the 18th green at the Gray Course at Ohio State University during her freshman year to win the 2011 Division I state championship, the recruitment process of where she would go to college began.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Maruna headed for Mount

    LeeAnn Maruna never really expected to play collegiate golf. She was so taken aback when the opportunity presented itself, she didn’t know how to respond. After all, the Grand Valley graduate had only been playing the game for a few years.

    July 23, 2014

  • Crate Late Models featured

    The Evergreen Lake Park Campground Crate Late Models, the premier class at Raceway 7, will be featured Friday night as they race for $1,000 to win.

    July 23, 2014

  • Norm He’s the Norm

    In the early part of the 20th century, as golf was taking off in popularity, it was not uncommon for boys to take up the game after becoming caddies.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don A Don McCormack column: The journey is what’s most important

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of weeks, you’ve heard over and over and over how it’s been a half-century since one of Cleveland’s big three professional sports teams have won a championship.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Murdick wins as Big Block Modifieds return

    The BRP Big Block Modifed Tour returned to Raceway 7 with 21 of the region’s fastest Modifieds turning out for the scheduled 35-lap event, the first for the Modifieds at the northeast Ohio speedplant since 2005, an event won by Todd Burley.

    July 21, 2014

  • Dale Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Chances for controlled waterfowl hunting

    Waterfowl hunters are invited to participate in special drawings for controlled hunting opportunities, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife. The drawing dates and times are as follows:

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kingsville gets it done

    In a rematch of a previous softball clash between the Kingsville 9-10-year-olds and those from Conneaut, Kingsville had settled thing quickly and decisively in a mercy-rule triumph.

    July 20, 2014

  • TD Club golf A Chris Larick column: TD Club hopes to score

    Though its life was never seriously threatened, the Ashtabula County Touchdown Club has suffered in recent years.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Don A Don McCormack column: A heartfelt plea to curb violence

    Like everyone who loves soccer — and the rest of us whose interest level rises dramatically every four years when the World Cup comes around — Kevin Meier was appalled at the recent attack of soccer referee John Bieniewicz in Michigan by a player that resulted in Bieniewicz tragically dying.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

Little League All-Stars July 1 to 12
AP NASCAR Lastest News
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings
AP Auto Racing Photos
West Side Shootout 2014
Ashtabula County at State Track Meet
Jefferson vs Akron St. Vincent St. Mary Regional Softball
District Track 2014
Jefferson District Softball Tournament
Bob Walters 50 Years
Geneva vs Perry Division II District Semifinal
Sports Week in Review May 12 to May 17
Sports Week in Review May 5 to May 10 2014
Sports Week in Review April 28 to May 3
Sports Video Archive
House Ads
AP Video