WINSTED >> Gilbert/Northwestern’s football team eked out a 15-14 win over SMSA/University Saturday afternoon while discovering it’s better to come out on the top end of an object lesson.
After a convincing first-week win at Enfield (34-13), the Yellowjackets spent much of Saturday’s game at Van Wye Field shooting at their own feet.
“We haven’t played (SMSA) in two years. We probably weren’t as prepared as we should be,” said GN coach Scott Salius.
“Last week, they gave us what we wanted and we took advantage,” said senior quarterback Aiden Tellier. “This week, we didn’t do that.”
“From the beginning, they played harder,” said senior receiver Rick Persechino. “We took them for granted.”
The result was a game of penalties, fumbles and missed scoring opportunities for Gilbert/Northwestern.
Fortunately for the Yellowjackets, SMSA, 35-16 victims of a good Canton team last week, played the same game on a day that produced seven fumbles (4-3 SMSA) between the two teams.
“We’re young,” said Tiger Hawk coach Graham Martin. “Canton doesn’t do a lot, but what they do, they do well. We turned the ball over five times.”
Nevertheless, after a scoreless first half, SMSA’s skill players sat on a 14-7 lead going into the final period.
GN’s defense produced a safety. Then Tellier connected with Persechino on a 23-yard scoring pass that pulled the game out for Gilbert/Northwestern.
Frustrations on both sides built from the beginning. SMSA sophomore running back Allen Walker (13 carries, 109 yards) ran 10 yards for a first down on the Tiger Hawks’ first play from scrimmage.
SMSA recovered its own fumble on the second play and GN’s defense, solid all day, forced a punt after sacking sophomore quarterback Blake Breglia (9-for-16, 171 yards passing) for a loss of five yards.
The Yellowjackets started on SMSA’s 47, marching to the 16 before sputtering out on a pair of incompletions. “Some of it is blocking; some of it is me being 5-9,” said Tellier (9-for-16, 171 passing yards), in his first year as starting quarterback. “I’ve got to move my feet more.”
“We have to get more from our offensive line,” Salius said. “On fourth and one, that’s our down.”
GN’s defense stayed on track. The Tiger Hawks recovered another of their own fumbles, then punted.
Gilbert/Northwestern lost its first fumble at the SMSA 40. The Tiger Hawks ran three plays and punted.
The first half was like that: opportunities lost.
SMSA blocked a field goal early in the second half, then fumbled the ball away on their own 20. GN got to the nine, then gave it up on a penalty.
Led by Walker runs, SMSA ran back to the GN four-yard-line. An apparent Walker touchdown came back on a holding penalty, then disappeared altogether with three incomplete passes.
Halftime brought relief for both sides.
GN celebrated a new beginning with a 56-yard drive climaxed by a 28-yard scoring run by Paxton Franklin (21 carries, 106 yards), 7-0 with Joe Columbie’s kick. SMSA came back with 56 yards of its own, topped by a 26-yard pass from Breglia on a great catch by Gary Miller. GN fumbled the ball away at SMSA’s 49.
Four plays later, Nick Lajara (7 catches, 110 yards) grabbed a tipped pass from Breglia for a 40-yard touchdown. The pair connected again for a two-point conversion. Then one final GN fumble turned rosy. SMSA recovered on its own two-yard-line in the final seconds of the third quarter.
The Yellowjacket defense turned it into a two-point safety early in the fourth.
Object lesson learned, GN’s offense went 53 yards for the winning touchdown on Tellier’s 23-yard pass to Persechino.
The Yellowjacket defense recovered one more Tiger Hawk fumble; time ran out with a Tellier knee.
“We’ve got to continue to work hard,” Tellier said.
Gilbert/Northwestern 15, SMSA/University 14
At Van Wye Field, Winsted
SMSA/University 0 0 14 0 – 14
Gilbert/Northwestern 0 0 7 8 – 15
G – Paxton Franklin 28-yard run (Joe Columbie kick)
S – Blake Breglia 26-yard pass to Gary Miller (kick failed)
S – Breglia 40-yard pass to Nick Lajara (Breglia pass to Lajara)
G – safety
G – Aiden Tellier 23-yard pass to Rick Persechino (kick failed)
Rushing: S – Allen Walker 13 carries/109 yards; Blake Bregllia 4/3; Pharoh Mathis 4/8.
G – Aiden Tellier 7 carries/41 yards; Paxton Franklin 21/106; Cam Rouleau 2/20; Matthew Nieves 7/29.
Passing: S – Blake Breglia 9-for-16/171 yards. G – Aiden Tellier 8/14/129.
Receiving: S – Nick Lajara 7 catches/110 yards; Devyn Lozarda 1/35; Gary Miller 1/26.
G – Tucker Kreh 3 catches/29 yards; Cam Rouleau 1/32; Dyland Mulligan 1/5; Paxton Franklin 3/63; Rick Persechino 2/55.
Fumbles: S – 4; G – 3.
Records: SMSA/University 0-2; Gilbert/Northwestern 2-0.