By Greg Gulas
Heading into the final weekend of play, Youngstown Christian felt it would have to win over Gilmour Academy if they expected to extend their season to an 11th week.
But prior to Saturday’s game with the Lancers, coach Brian Marrow found out that his Eagles had, in fact, earned a Division VI playoff berth and then shared the good news with his team.
After the Eagles learned of their fate, they tuned up for next week with a 47-28 victory at Poland High’s Dave Pavlansky Field.
Ryan Grier scored three times and rushed for a game-high 119 yards while the area’s top overall defense scored three defensive touchdowns to finish 7-2.
“We put the ball on the carpet way too many times tonight and while I was pleased with our overall effort on both sides of the ball, we definitely have to shore up holding onto the pigskin if we expect to make some noise in the play-offs,” Marrow said.
Grier got the Eagles on the board first with a 1-yard run. Moments later, he raced 87 yards with a fumble recovery on thevery next series as Youngstown Christian took a 14-0 advantage with just a little more than half of the first quarter expired.
Matt Botek’s 20-yard scoring strike to Ryan Conry just six seconds into the second period cut the Eagles lead in half, 14-7.
But the Eagles’ Darien Townsend scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 37-yard punt return for a 21-7 Youngstown Christian halftime lead.
Townsend and Grier just used the break to catch their breath with the former scoring on a 61-yard interception return a little over a minute into the second half. Grier added a 64-yard touchdown run which allowed the Eagles to increase their lead to 34-7.
Gilmour’s Chase Terrica then caught a Connor Lesko pass from 15 yards away at 3:16 of the period, cutting the Eagles’ lead to 34-14 with one period remaining.
A 1-yard run by DreVon Green at 5:50 of the final frame made it 40-14 in favor of the Eagles, but the scrappy Lancers wouldn’t go quietly as Lesko found Jack Hyland from 11 yards away, cutting the deficit margin to 40-21 with a little more than five minutes remaining.
A 43-yard touchdown run by Kimonie Bryant increased the Eagles’ lead to 47-21 while Lesko’s 9-yard scoring strike to Dave Williams with 35 seconds left completed the scoring.
The Eagles (7-2) won the game but Gilmour (3-7) won the statistical battle, racking up 381 total yards of offense (the Eagles entered the game allowing opponents just 175.9 yards). Youngstown Christian’s offense amassed just 237 yards.
Lesko and Matt Botek combined to complete 18 of 37 aerial attempts for 265 yards, but suffered two interceptions while fumbling away another scoring opportunity as well.
“We had the opportunity tonight to get our young kids some work and that was very helpful,” Marrow said.
Gilmour held a 23-6 first-down advantage.
Hyland was the game’s leading receiver, catching six balls for 79 yards and a touchdown.