Gilbert/Northwestern came away mildly disappointed with its 27-7 victory over Nonnewaug Saturday.
“A 20-point win looks like a good margin on the scoreboard, but we didn’t play to our potential,” said GN quarterback John Lippincott.
“They were pretty good,” said senior running back Tony Ortiz. “We took them lightly in the first half. Then we worked hard and just pushed.”
For Nonnewaug, following a season of close losses, Senior Day was a chance to make a huge statement.
“I told the kids, ‘If we play our game and they make a mistake, we could have a day,'” said Nonnewaug coach John Oko.
The Chiefs led 7-6 at the end of the first period, still in it, 19-7, by the half.
“In the first half, things were going our way; we just couldn’t score more than seven,” said Oko.
Despite giving up 35 penalty yards and two fumbles in the half, the Yellowjackets had the push.
The reward for a Nonnewaug win would have been a high point in the Chiefs’ season, maybe their whole program.
The gold ring for GN was just as big, maybe bigger.
The Yellowjackets’ eighth win tied the program’s all-time mark for regular-season victories, set in 1933. It cemented at least a tie for the Western Division Championship in the Pequot League. It set up next Friday’s meeting at undefeated Valley Regional/Old Lyme as a showdown for at least part of the overall Pequot Championship between GN, Morgan-Clinton and Valley Regional, all with one loss if Gilbert/Northwestern wins.
And it continued GN’s march toward a playoff berth. The Yellowjackets currently rank fourth in Class M.
There was plenty to push for Saturday afternoon at Nonnewaug.
First, the ‘Jackets spun their wheels.
After just six plays by Nonnewaug, the GN defense blocked the Chiefs’ punt, setting up on the Nonnewaug 35.
Nonnewaug got it back on the very first play, with a GN fumble.
Gilbert’s defense stuffed the Chiefs again.
Then it looked too easy for the Yellowjackets.
On the first play from scrimmage, Lippincott heaved a 70-yard touchdown pass to Seth Dayton…called back for an illegal receiver downfield.
Add a five-yard penalty. The next play was the same one out of the backfield, with Ortiz going long this time…for 75 yards and a touchdown.
The GN point-after try missed.
Nonnewaug came back with an 18-yard scoring play of its own, Christian Metallo to Troy Hardisty.
It wouldn’t be a GN cake-walk after all.
Still, the Yellowjackets can show plenty of reasons for their sterling record.
With 4:46 left in the first half, Lippincott and Ortiz flashed another dimension of the GN passing attack.
On third down, deep in their own territory, Lippincott hit Ortiz with a screen pass on the left flank. The senior speedster did the rest – 84 yards and a touchdown. Joe Columbie made the point after.
Two minutes later, Dayton romped in for a 17-yard touchdown.
Nonnewaug blocked the point after, but the GN push was on.
On a good day for both defenses, it left the scoreboard blank in the third quarter, then one more jaunt by Ortiz in the fourth, 14 yards, 25-7.
Lippincott and Nick Pedrolini connected for the two-point conversion.
If the Yellowjackets weren’t looking ahead to Friday’s clash with Valley Regional, they are now.
“They’re dangerous at every turn,” said GN coach Scott Salius.
Gilbert/Northwestern 27, Nonnewaug 7
At Nonnewaug High School
Gilbert 6 13 0 8-27
Nonnewaug 7 0 0 0-7
GN-Tony Ortiz, 75-yd pass from John Lippincott, kick failed
N-Troy Haridisty, 18-yd pass from Christian Metallo, Nick Bordiere kick
GN-Ortiz, 84-yd pass from Lippincott, Joe Columbie kick
GN-Seth Dayton, 17-yd run, kick blocked
GN-Ortiz, 14-yd run, Nick Pedrolini pass from Lippincott
Rushing: GN-Tony Ortiz 11-for-70 yds/TD; Seth Dayton 2/16/TD; John Lippincott 9/62. N-Jon Gombos 12/42; Nick Uberti 8/30; Christian Metallo 8/-17; Nick Bordiere 4/49.
Passing: GN-John Lippincott 6-for-11/213 yds/2 TDs/2-pt conversion. N-Christian Metallo 6-for-16/82 yds/TD/interception.
Receiving: GN-Tony Ortiz, 2/160 yds/2 TDs; Nick Pedrolini 2/17/2-pt conversion; Seth Dayton 1/34; Greg Rutkowski 1/2. N-Nick Uberte 2/53; Jon Gombos 1/9; Keeghan Fortuna 1/20; Troy Swanson 2/0.
Records: Gilbert/Northwestern 8-1; Nonnewaug 2-7.