Saturday, September 8, 2018
By JEFF ZUPANIC
The “money down” cost Boardman a chance for a 3-0 start on Friday night against former Federal League rival Massillon Jackson.
The Spartans mustered just one touchdown despite getting starting quarterback Mike O’Horo back from injury but head coach Joe Ignazio thought the game was decided on the other side of the ball. The Polar Bears came away with a physical 17-7 win, thanks to their ability to extend drives on third down.
Jackson (2-1) converted 5 of 13 for the game, but was efficient in the first half with numerous daggers to the Boardman defense. Senior quarterback Trey Wright did most of the damage by getting out of the pocket and extending plays.
The only points in the first half came on a 10-yard completion from Wright to Logan Fisher with 5:59 left before halftime. The Polar Bears converted a trio of third downs and a fourth down on the 17-play, 85-yard drive.
The touchdown pass also happened on third down.
“We were terrible on third downs tonight. We gave up a 17-play, 85-yard drive in the first half and when you do that you are not playing very good football,” Ignazio said. “I don’t care what we are doing offensively at that point. We got to stop them. We kept letting them break out of the pocket. I thought we rose to the challenge with the early stop and gave ourselves a chance in the second half.”
Despite gaining just 62 yards in the first half, the Spartans (2-1) were in the game. They tied the score at 7 early in the third quarter after O’Horo found Cam Kreps for a 25-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone.
The Polar Bears took a 10-7 lead at the start of the fourth quarter following a 32-yard field goal by Brice Mouton and Ethan Adkins put the finishing touches on the win with an 11-yard touchdown run with under five minutes remaining.
The game got off to a wild start with three turnovers in the first 11 minutes and Jackson held a brief 6-0 lead before the officials decided to take the points off the board. The Polar Bears drove the length of the field on their opening possession to set up a third-and-goal from the 5. Wright gained four yards on the quarterback keeper before getting stopped just short. The Spartans thought they recovered a fumble but the officials ruled the ball stayed with Jackson.
On the next play, Jackson’s Ethan Adkins appeared to score as the side judge signaled touchdown before a conference by the officials took the score away and ruled the Spartans recovered a fumble on the 1-inch line.
Boardman threw an interception four plays later and then Jackson returned the favor on the very next play.
“Against a team like that you have to take advantage of your opportunities. They’re big and physical up front. We haven’t seen [players] like 6-9, 300 pounds all year nor do you see that very often,” Ignazio said. “I thought we were an undisciplined football team all around tonight.”