BURLINGTON >> Gilbert/Northwestern (2-1) spotted Lewis Mills (1-1) a first-quarter touchdown, then showed the Spartans all the options within its play-option offense along with a stiffened defense, rolling to a 34-7 win at Lewis Mills High School Saturday afternoon.
“In the first quarter, we were slow and overconfident,” said junior fullback/linebacker Jake Roth. “We weren’t expecting them to be so aggressive.”
In a game featuring five turnovers – 3 Yellowjacket fumbles; a Mills fumble and interception – and lots of whistles, Mills pounced on the first Yellowjacket fumble after G/N’s defense forced a punt ending the first Spartan offensive series.
Regaining the ball on the first Yellowjacket play from scrimmage, the Spartans set up on the G/N 21-yard line, scoring in three plays, on a 19-yard pass from Trevor Baker to Chris LaPolla, 7-0 with a point-after by Nick Podchaiski.
The Spartans did their homework.
After quarterback Ben Schiffer, sophomore Billy Komons was the big ground-gainer in G/N’s win against Nonnewaug last week, Tucker Kreh the big receiving threat.
“We spread the wealth,” said Yellowjacket coach Scott Salius. “They had two or three men on Tucker Kreh so it left (Gabe) Schwartz and Komons open for passes. We have lots of weapons; it’s just a matter of finding out which one is working.”
On offense, that took the rest of the first quarter while Mills held Komons to short ground gains.
“Meanwhile, our defense keeps us in the ballgame,” said Salius.
“After that first touchdown pass, I said, ‘They’re going to pick on me,’” said senior free safety Joey Pedrolini.
Mills quarterback Baker completed just two more passes in the first half. Pedrolini batted away three attempts; Schwartz intercepted another.
“We shot ourselves in the foot too many times,” said Lewis Mills coach Jose Santana.
Still leading 7-0, the first foot injury was a bad snap to Baker, back to punt on fourth down with five minutes left in the first half.
Baker chased it all the way back to the Spartan 36.
Schiffer hit Komons for 34 yards. Schwarts ran the last two, 7-6, Mills. Spartan Chris Romano blocked the extra-point attempt.
Mills went four-and-out.
The Yellowjackets were back in the end zone in seven plays. Despite shots at their own feet on the way, a 30-yard pass from Schiffer to Schwartz was golden. Schiffer ran in the two-point conversion 14-7.
The second half freatured alternate Yellowjacket weapons. Schwartz was effective on the ground and on the receiving end of a 27-yard pass from Schiffer as the big gainers in a clock-eating 12-play march to another G/N touchdown.
Roth provided the final two yards, Columbie the kick, 21-7.
The G/N defense still roared.
Starting quarterback Baker gashed his non-throwing hand in the first half. Senior Lucas Lanning, last year’s starter, took over in the second.
In two plays after the Yellowjacket score, Schwartz recovered a fumble on the Spartan 15-yard line. He and Schiffer connected for a 13-yard scoring pass.
“I saw the (fumble) and just fell on it,” said Schwartz, a junior. “I knew I would be open for the pass because we ran it all day.”
The kick failed. G/N led 27-7. The only injured feet belonged to Mills.
Roth was the Yellowjacket weapon that worked in the final period – three carries for 54 yards and a final touchdown, 34-7 with a Columbie kick.
“We lost our starting quarterback and two starting linemen,” said Spartan coach Santana. “It doesn’t get any easier. We have (league-favorite) Granby next week.”
The Bears come to Mills at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Gilbert/Northwestern goes to Canton Friday for a 6:30 p.m. start under the lights.
Gilbert/Northwestern 34, Lewis Mills 7
At Lewis Mills High School
Gilbert/Northwestern 0 14 13 7 – 34
Lewis Mills 7 0 0 0 – 7
LM – Chris LaPolla 19-yard pass from Trevor Baker (Nick Podchaiski kick)
G/N – Gabe Schwartz 2-yard run (kick blocked)
G/N – Schwartz 30-yard pass from Ben Schiffer (Schiffer run)
G/N – Jake Roth 2-yard run (Joe Columbie kick)
G/N – Schwartz 13-yard pass from Schiffer (kick failed)
G/N – Roth 10-yard run (Columbie kick)
Rushing: G/N – E.J. Claman 4 carries/36 yards; Billy Komons 7/19; Gabe Schwartz 5/20; Jake Roth 5/65; Ben Schiffer 9/30. LM – Grayson LaBerge 12/31; Trevor Baker 3/-2; Michael Ciccarelli 4/60; Lucas Lanning 7/-7.
Passing: G/N – Ben Schiffer 5 completions/12 attempts/86 yards. LM – Trevor Baker 3/9/28/interception; Lucas Lanning 4/10/46.
Receiving: G/M – Tucker Kreh 1 reception/11 yards; Billy Komons 3/52; Gabe Schwartz 3/60. LM – Matthew Rinkus 4/30; Jesse Serrano 1/6; Ian Dunn 1/19.
Records: Gilbert/Northwestern 2-1; Lewis Mills 1-1.