By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
It didn’t take long for the Gilmour Academy offense to establish it could score points Friday night at Corlew Stadium. The Lancers scored 21 points in the first six minutes on their way to a 49-19 victory over Edgewood.
“We got out pretty quick,” Gilmour coach Shawn Dodd said. “We were hoping to do that. They have a team that has a lot of athletes. We told our defense, as they get more complicated, we’ll have to get simpler on defense.
“It’s a credit to our offensive coordinator John Yuha that we were able to score points quick. They put a lot of guys in the box. (Our quarterback) Matt Botek is starting to prove he can throw the ball.”
“They had a great offensive gameplan,” Edgewood coach Josh Franke said. “They have a lot of talent and you could tell they gamplanned well for us and they took advantage of some mismatches.”
Just six plays and 1:36 into the game, Gilmour (7-1) was on the board following a 31-yard scoring strike from Botek to Ryan Conry. After a three and out for the Warriors (3-5), Botek scrambled 60 yards to put the Lancers up, 14-0, with 8:01 left in the opening quarter.
Edgewood’s Riis Smith answered with an 83-yard kick return for a touchdown and the Warriors had cut the deficit in half with 7:46 to play in the period.
“(Smith) is lightning in a bottle,” Dodd said. “He’s quick. What grade is he in? A senior? Thank God! I don’t want to see that kid again.”
The Lancers’ next two scores came on third downs.
Botek hit Frank Grk with a 15-yard score on third and 6 with 6:14 to play in the first quarter. Then he hit Ishmael Hargrove with a 17-yard pass on fourth and 7 to put Gilmour ahead, 28-7, with 2:30 left in the first period.
“That was big,” Dodd said. “I thought we played well on third and fourth downs. The offensive coordinator knows he has two downs (to get the yardage necessary).”
Those third and fourth down plays turned the tide for Edgewood.
“Often times, the way the game is played, a single play can open the game up and break or break you,” Franke said. “A couple of times, we had opportunities to make plays and we didn’t execute when we needed to. That’s the difference in the football game.”
A minute and a half into the second quarter, Rodell Golphin struck for a 79-yard scoring run and the Lancers were up, 35-7.
Then, running as efficient a two-minute drill as possible, Botek hit Grk for a 15-yard score on fourth and 10 with no time left on the clock to put Gilmour up, 42-7, at the break.
Botek was 9 of 19 passing for 138 yards and four touchdowns in the first half. He finished with 221 yards passing with five scores on a 10-of-20 night.
“He’s a three-year starter,” Dodd said. “He’s looking at Harvard and Yale. He makes us look smart. (Botek and the receivers) have played together a long time. They have a lot of chemistry. It helps to have smart guys. (Botek) knows where (the receivers) will be on the field. It’s nice to have talent.”
Though Franke and his coaching staff had seen the Lancers run the ball mostly on film, he was not a bit surprised they came out throwing, and throwing effectively.
“Absolutely not,” Franke said. “They have great receivers and a great quarterback. We knew they were capable of throwing the football. We did a pretty good job of stopping their running game early and forced them into throwing, which is what we wanted to do.
“So often it’s not about Xs and Os, but about Jims and Joes. They played the matchup game well tonight.”
The Lancers’ last score was an 83-yard strike from Botek to Conry on a third and 7 with 9:07 remaining in the third quarter.
Edgewood added a 46-yard scoring pass from quarterback Alex Wisnyai to Anthonie Magda and a 3-yard run to paydirt by Smith.
“Let’s just say I wasn’t pleasant at the half,” Franke said. “I’d like to think we motivated them. We talked about not quitting. I told them I could go home and sleep well if we fought in the second half.
“They didn’t give up. They fought in the second half.”
Wisnyai passed for 216 yards and Magda had six receptions for 130 yards and the score. Smith netted 134 yards and a score on 22 carries.
Golphin carried 20 times for 178 yards and a touchdown. Botek netted 77 yards and a score on seven attempts. Conry had four receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns while Grk caught three passes, two for touchdowns and netted 50 yards.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.