By MIKE SHAFFER
For the Star Beacon
Conneaut coach Rocco Dobran would have agreed with Gilmour Academy coach Shawn Dodd that last year’s game between their two programs won by Gilmour 29-28 in overtime was a lot of fun.
For Dobran though, this year’s rendition of the same match-up offered little for him to smile about as the Lancers (6-1) spoiled homecoming with a convincing 42-12 win at Conneaut Stadium on Friday night.
The loss ends the Spartans’ three-game win streak, dropping them to 4-3.
“They’re a very good ball team,” Dobran said about the Lancers. “They are very good up front and they have some very good skilled guys. They came out hitting hard tonight.”
The Lancers hit hard, to the tune of racking up 465 yards of offense while holding the Spartans to just 98.
Their quarterback Matt Botek completed ten of 16 passes for 162 and a pair of touchdowns while Ishmael Hargrove, a transfer from now-closed Chanel High School, rushed the ball 19 times for 144 yards including a pair of scores.
“Their quarterback is a third year starter and he’s been good all three years and Hargrove is a good player. We were not sure if they would have their tailback back this week or not but they just have great athletes all around”.
Gilmour did have their tailback. He was Rodell Golphin, another transfer from Chanel, who opened the scoring with a 30-yard touchdown run on the Lancers opening drive. Gilmour went up 14 to 0 later in the first on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Botek to Chuckie Gallo.
Conneaut scored in the second quarter capitalizing on a bad snap on a punt attempt by the Lancers, giving them the football at the Gilmour 28 yard line.
Four plays later, quarterback Troy Colucci connected with Alex Gerdes on a 10-yard touchdown pass to get the Spartans on the board. That was as close as the game got all night, though.
Botek scored on a 5-yard run. Later Frank Grk scored on a 4-yard run. Then in the final minute of the first half, Botek completed a screen pass Hargrove that the senior took 43 yards to blow the game open at 35-6 at intermission.
“We’re the same team with a couple of nice additions this year,” Dodd said. “The kids have worked hard in the weight room and grown a year older with us. We’re very fortunate to be able to get Golphin and Hargrove with Chanel closing. We can play with anyone in the Cleveland area, right now.”
The Spartans were only able to manage two first downs in the first half as the Lancer defense keyed on shutting down Colucci.
One the area’s leading all round players on offense, the Spartans quarterback was held to just 58 total yards.
“He was the guy we really wanted to stop, he really hurt us last year,” Dodd said. “No disrespect to the other guys they have, but we wanted to keep him in the pocket and contain him. We wanted to make him have to throw deep and have to force someone else to beat us.”
If the Lancer defense was not tough enough, Colucci was also victimized by some dropped passes.
“It was that kind of night,” Dobran said. “They had a guy on a Troy, so he couldn’t get free. We had to put the ball up and we had trouble hanging on to the ball tonight. If we could have caught some passes and got our passing game going, we could have spread them out. You get a couple of dropped passes and you can’t run the ball, it puts a damper on things.
“Hopefully, the kids learned their lesson that we can keep fighting, keep our heads up and keep going.”
In the third quarter, Golphin broke free again this time, on a 51-yard scamper for the Lancers’ sixth touchdown of the night.
In the fourth quarter, it looked like they’d score another until Gerdes intercepted a pass at the goal line and returned it 43 yards. The Spartans drove 57 yards from there, capped by a 15-yard run by Colucci for their final score.
Shaffer is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.