Cory Guy ignites Clippers' 2nd-half rally over Bears
His second half kickoff return led Columbiana to a 20-7 win over Leetonia.
By JOHN BUTERA
LEETONIA -- Just when the Columbiana Clippers needed a big play Cory Guy stepped up and gave it to them.
Guy's second half kickoff return broke a 7-7 deadlock with Leetonia and spearheaded the Clippers to a 20-7 victory Friday night.
The play was so big that afterwards it seemed like all everyone wanted to talk about.
"That was really a momentum changer," said Leetonia coach Artie Altomare.
The Bears standout linebacker Andrew Billet added: "We were all jacked up for the second half and then he proceeds to run that kickoff back."
Then there was Clippers coach Bob Spaite, who noted, "That was huge. Plain and simple. I told the kids at halftime that somebody needs to step up and make a play. And he sure did it."
Finally, what did Guy think?
"I just wanted to get the momentum on our side," Guy said. "And for a couple of minutes you could tell it really knocked the air out of them [Leetonia]."
The win improved Columbiana's record to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Tri-County, while Leetonia fell to 4-2, 2-1.
Inspired by Billet, perhaps the league's top player on defense, Leetonia grabbed an early 7-0 lead when Jon Williams scored on a 5-yard run with 5:17 remaining in the first period.
Columbiana was struggling offensively, going three and out on three straight possessions and maintaining possession for just over four minutes combined.
Finally the Clippers got it going, but not before being pinned on their own 6-yard line.
"We thought we had them right where we wanted them at that point," said Altomare. "But then they started to take off. Plus by then they were starting to take us out of our game plan as well."
Columbiana used a pair of Mike Welce passes, one to Doug Sposetta for 20 yards and another to Guy, who also had a key fumble recovery, for 26 more and soon found themselves on the Leetonia 30.
From there, Joey Winters rambled down the right sideline, using a stiff arm to score the game-tying touchdown with four minutes remaining in the first half.
Columbiana was also starting to control some time, despite finding Billet in their backfield, often a split second after the snap.
After Guy's kickoff return the Bears used some outstanding runs from quarterback Corey Raushenbach to garner a first down at the Clippers' 15. However, Guy came up with the fumble recovery.
Leetonia got one more good drive, advancing to the Clippers' 36, but following a punt the Clippers put the game away with an 80-yard, 11-play drive.
The march marked the return of Beau Papania, who missed three weeks with an injury. Papania, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2004, capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown. That completed the scoring with 11:06 left.
"We wanted to bring Beau along a little at a time," said Spaite. "The kids know he's a leader. Plus Joey Winters has really stepped it up and given us an emotional lift."
Winters led all rushers with 106 yards on 18 carries while Papania had 49 on nine and Welce 40 on 10.
Raushenbach led the Bears with 42 yards rushing and 109 through the air.
"Now it's Lisbon, & quot; said Spaite, "and they're going to being even more dangerous coming off that loss to Crestview."