By ERIC HAMILTON
NEW MIDDLETOWN — Springfield High running back Jim Zubick came out of Friday’s game against Lowellville for just one offensive play. Lowellville probably wishes he would have stayed on the sideline a little longer.
The senior piled up 175 yards rushing and teammate Dylan DeJane scored three touchdowns to lead the Tigers to a convincing 31-12 victory over the rival Rockets. Quarterback Brad Ferraro added 65 yards on the ground as well, as Springfield’s offensive line handled Lowellville’s bigger defensive front.
“We weren’t intimidated at all,” said Zubick. “We just came out strong and tried to run the ball hard. I tried to make the first guy miss then look for open space. Our line blocked really well tonight.
“I just had a leg cramp on that one play, but I was fired up and we really wanted to win this game. We’ll use this game as a motivation for the next few weeks and build on it.”
Springfield broke a 12-all halftime stalemate with a pair of third quarter scores and a key defensive stand.
On the first possession of the third quarter, the Tigers took the lead when Ferraro connected with receiver Dan Gossard for a 15-yard touchdown strike. The point-after kick by Alexis Zubick gave Springfield a 19-12 advantage.
The game’s turning point came on Lowellville ensuing possession. The Rockets put together a nice drive thanks to the strong running of four different backs, led by quarterback Evan Filip. The effort was aided by a Springfield penalty, as Lowellville got to the Tigers’ 26.
But the Tigers defense dug in and forced a fourth-and-six situation. The Rockets went for the first down, but only picked up two yards and turned the ball over on downs.
The Springfield offense took advantage, marching 76 yards in eight plays to make it a two-score contest. DeJane rambled in from 29 yards out to give his team a 25-12 lead with 19 seconds left in the third quarter.
“We came out with better intensity in the third quarter,” said Springfield coach Sean Guerriero. “We were able to build some momentum and our defense started getting to the ball together.
“Our offensive line has really stepped it up the last two weeks and our combination of backs ran well tonight. We just need to put together a whole game, instead of taking a half to get going.”
Lowellville didn’t help its own cause much, losing two fumbles and committing nine penalties for 990 yards.
After getting off to a little bit of a slow start, the Tigers’ offense got things in gear in the second quarter, scoring twice to rally from an early 6-0 deficit.
Lowellville’s Pat Collins scored the game’s first touchdown on a 7-yard scamper at the 6:53 mark of the first quarter.
Springfield countered with a 27-yard jaunt by Ferraro and a 1-yard plunge by DeJane to take a 12-6 advantage.
Filip knotted the contest at 12-all with a 1-yard score just before halftime.
The sophomore quarterback was the catalyst for Lowellville, rushing for 152 of the Rockets’ 230 yards on the ground.