WINSTED >> A game that began in a circus of mishaps ended up firmly in Gilbert/Northwestern’s hands in what turned into a 29-6 Yellowjacket romp over Waterbury Career Academy at Gilber’s Van Why Field Thanksgiving morning.
Yellowjacket star Billy Komons ended with 118 yards and a touchdown leading the G/N parade, but it took the whole first half for the game to get untracked.
WCA and G/N traded fumbles on the first two plays from scrimmage; the Spartans lost a bad snap; G/N fumbled again; and the Yellowjackets blocked a Spartan punt all in the first five minutes of the game.
G/N started from the Career 9-yard line on the blocked punt for the game’s first touchdown in a 3-yard rush by quarterback Brad Lissy only to fumble again late in the first quarter.
The Spartans had one more first-quarter turnover left.
G/N linebacker Tyler May picked off a Career pass, setting up a 23-yard field goal by G/N’s Chris Nanni a minute into the second period.
When Spartan Jaden Battle returned the ensuing kickoff 74 yards, 10-6, it was anybody’s game.
“They’re a dangerous team, as we saw from that run,” said G/N head coach Scott Salius. “They get their wins when they get to the open field. Our game plan was to get them in the backfield.”
The Yellowjacket defense gained more yards than the Spartans at times, doing just that while holding Career to less than 100 yards rushing for the game.
Nevetheless, the first half was a battle to nowhere.
As the first-half clock ticked down, G/N’s E.J. Claman picked off another Spartan pass, running it in for what seemed a touchdown, only to have it nullified by an illegal Yellowjacket block.
“I was frustrated in the first half,” said Claman.
So was Komons.
“We tried to get outside, but their backs were too fast,” he said.
“We tried a different formation in the second half,” said Coach Salius.
“We pounded the ball a little more up the middle,” said Komons.
It worked from the start.
Komons pounded out three straight first downs after the second-half kickoff. Fullback Gabe Schwartz got another. Komons ran it in, 16-6.
“That first drive in the second half was key,” said Salius.
The G/N defense forced a Spartan punt. Lissy threw a 64-yard pass play to Claman on the first play from scrimmage.
This time, no flags.
“It was a relief,” said Claman.
At 22-6, the G/N floodgates were open. Career’s were still closed.
Komons put the final touch on it with a 20-yard jaunt early in the fourth quarter, setting up a one-yard plunge by Jake Roth for the final score.
The Yellowjackets finish their season 8-2, missing a Class M playoff berth by three spots.
Waterbury Career finishes its NVL season a respectable 4-6.
Gilbert/Northwestern 29, Waterbury Career Academy 6
At Van Why Field, Winsted
WCA 0 6 0 0 – 6
G/N 7 3 12 7 – 29
G/N – Brad Lissy 3-yard run (Chris Nanni kick)
G/N – Nanni 23-yard field goal
WCA – Jaden Battle 74-yard kickoff return (run failed)
G/N – Billy Komons 9-yard run (kick failed)
G/N – E.J. Claman 64-yard pass play from Lissy (kick failed)
G/N – Jake Roth 1-yard run (Nanni kick)
Rushing: WCA – Josiah Rivers 14 carries/43 yards; Kyren Petteway 7/30; Jaden Battle 2/76. G/N – Billy Komons 24/118; Brad Lissy 4/13; Gabe Schwartz 4/15; Jake Roth 5/17.
Passing: WCA – Kyren Petteway 3 completions/13 attempts/13 yards/2 interceptions. G/N – Brad Lissy 5 completions/11 attempts/111 yards/1 interception.
Receiving: WCA – Jaden Battle 2 receptions/7 yards; Jorge Cruz 1/6. G/N – Colton Bossi 2/20; Gabe Schwartz 1/17; Billy Komons 1/10; E.J. Claman 1/64.
Records: Waterbury Career Academy 4-6; Gilbert/Northwestern 8-2.