By Greg Gulas
Last week, both Youngstown Christian and Springfield posted shutout victories to start the season.
In week two, their offenses by far outshined the defense.
Nick Russell threw for 181 yards and a touchdown, rushing for 45 yards and another score as the Tigers (2-0) stopped the Eagles, 31-21 on Friday at Tiger Field.
“We’re playing good, smart football through the first two games of the season,” said Springfield coach Sean Guerriero.
“Our defense is running to the football, the receivers are running crisp routes and they seem to make any necessary adjustments.
It took the Tigers just two plays to get on the scoreboard as Nick Feezle raced into the end zone from 6 yards out for the early 7-0 advantage.
They stretched the lead to 10-0 on a Lexi Zubick 29-yard field goal midway through the second frame, but Youngstown Christian (1-1) cut the lead to 10-7 when Ryan Grier found the end zone from 8 yards away just 1:28 before intermission.
Grier, who had a game-high 132 yards rushing on 16 carries, had seven carries of double digit gains.
“Four turnovers really hurt us tonight,” said YCS coach Brian Marrow. “One of the many positives that we can take from this game, however, was the running of Ryan Grier. He plays his heart out, works hard and goes both ways for us.”
After the Grier tally, Joey Ohlin took the ensuing kickoff the distance from 79 yards as the Tigers made it 17-7 at the intermission.
Russell then hit Brian Johnson with a 22-yard scoring strike at 4:55 of the third period for a 24-7 Tigers margin, but when the Eagles’ Darien Townsend scored from four yards away a little over two minutes later, they cut the Tigers margin to 24-14.
Russell needed just 49 seconds to find the end zone, scoring on a 13-yard scamper at the 2:05 mark of the period for a 31-14 Tigers lead.
“We knew going into the game that this Youngstown Christian team was a lot better than they were a season ago.
“We certainly didn’t take them for granted,” said Russell. “Everyone contributed tonight, especially Brian [Johnson], who I was able to hit for a score in the corner of the end zone.”
Johnson, who also also had an interception on the night, marvels at the play of his signal-caller.
“Nick can pass and run and he does both exceptionally well. It’s just great to start the season 2-0 after tonight’s win,” Johnson said.
The Eagles’ Jonathan Staples then rounded out the scoring by racing 74-yards for a score with just 53 seconds remaining, cutting the margin to 31-21 but it was just too little, too late.