- Story Detail
"GN" explodes in second half to top SMSA.
By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Litchfield County Sports.com
HARTFORD, Oct. 8 – Things were just a little uncomfortable for the Gilbert/Northwestern football team after the first half of Saturday night’s Pequot Conference game at Dillon Stadium against the co-op team from Sport Medicine Science Academy and University High School.
The Yellowjackets had coughed up the ball three times (two fumbles and an interception) and trailed the upstart Tigerhawks by two points.
However in the third quarter, coach Scott Salius lined up his offense in its familiar I-formation and got things rolling. Gilbert/NWR scored four unanswered touchdowns to pull away from SMSA/University and earn its second win of the year, 40-20.
“We were trying some different formations that we hadn’t run yet this year (in the first half),” Salius said. “Once we got back into the I formation, we got a lot more comfortable.”
Gilbert was crisper and it allowed Devon Molway, Tony Ortiz and Seth Dayton to get into the open field where they were able to break some tackles and fuel Yellowjacket scoring drives.
Molway led all rushers with a game-high 182 yards on 19 carries, including 107 yards and two TDs in the second half. Quarterbacks John Lippincott and Nick Sullivan combined to throw three touchdown passes in the second half.
Gilbert intercepted SMSA/University QB Will Alicea three times. Ortiz had two interceptions, including a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter. He also recovered a fumble on a third quarter kickoff.
The victory was a welcome relief for the Yellowjackets (2-2, 2-2 Pequot Uncas), who host four-time defending Uncas champion Avon at home on Saturday at Van Field. After the game, Molway stood tall in his dirt-streaked uniform and addressed the team, urging them to refocus their efforts in practice this week in preparation for the Falcons.
Salius is still concerned with Gilbert’s habit of losing the ball. The Yellowjackets had four turnovers (3 fumbles, 1 interception) against the Tigerhawks. They had an additional three fumbles that they recovered themselves.
“It’s a big concern,” he said. “You can get away with it against a (winless) team like tonight. But you can’t do that against an Ellington, Coventry or Avon.”
Gilbert had seven turnovers (six fumbles) in a 35-0 loss to Ellington and another seven turnovers (six fumbles) in a 28-0 loss to Coventry.
The host Tigerhawks (0-3, 0-3 Pequot Uncas) are finding its first year in the league a challenging one. In three straight games, they have been dominated in the third quarter. Gilbert outscored SMSA/University by 21 points and gave up just two first downs.
SMSA/University got off to a fast start, bouncing the kickoff off a Yellowjacket defender and recovering it. A 31-yard pass from Alicea to Rashod Cauley on the first play put the ball on the Gilbert 11-yard line. SMSA scored on a fourth down play from the six on a TD pass from Alicea to Kiante Macon with 2:03 gone in the game for a 6-0 lead.
Gilbert was impressive on its opening drive, marching 69 yards in eight plays, sparked by Molway with 31 yards on the ground. Ortiz scored from the one with 5:50 left to tie the game at 6-6.
The Yellowjackets took a 12-6 lead when Ortiz stepped in front of a Tigerhawk receiver and raced 60 yards with an interception for a touchdown with 7:45 left in the second quarter.
However, SMSA responded immediately with a 10-play, 51-yard scoring drive. One of the key plays was a 15 yard run to the Gilbert 41-yard line on a fake punt by Kayron Macon on a fourth-and-15 play. Macon barely made the first down but it kept the drive alive. Alicea made a key 16-yard pass to Sheldon on third down and two plays later, Alicea fired a 12-yard scoring pass to Cauley. A successful conversion pass gave SMSA a 14-12 halftime edge.
Gilbert’s initial drive in the third quarter was sharp until they fumbled the ball away on their own 12-yard line. But the Yellowjackets didn’t allow SMSA a yard and after a punt and a personal foul penalty on the Tigerhawks, they took over on their own eight. Molway scored on a hard run for a 18-14 edge.
On the kickoff, Ortiz recovered the ball after a hard hit on a SMSA defender. Five plays later, the Yellowjackets extended their lead with a 26-yard scoring pass from Lippincott to John Ambrozaitis. A successful conversion run pushed the lead to 26-14 and the Yellowjackets were off and running.
On Gilbert’s next series, Dayton broke several tackles on a 45-yard run to the SMSA 19 yard line. Marshall scored on a nine-yard touchdown reception from Lippincott four plays later for a 32-14 lead.
“Going back to last year, this is fourth or fifth game that we’ve gone with a lead at halftime,” SMSA/University coach Graham Martin said. “We’re not playing football in the third quarter. I don’t what the problem is.”
Dayton finished with 72 yards on four carries, all in the second half. Lippincott completed 5-of-9 passes for 78 yards and two TDs for the Yellowjackets.