Genoa blanks Eastwood
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PEMBERVILLE A game that promised to be another tight clash between the Suburban Lakes League's top football teams never materialized that way last night, as the visiting Genoa Comets rolled to a 24-0 victory that spoiled homecoming festivities for Eastwood.
The two teams had traded seven-point wins last season, with Genoa winning in league play and the Eagles prevailing in the Division IV playoffs.
At halftime, that script appeared to be unchanged with the 10th-ranked Comets (7-0, 4-0) holding just a 7-0 edge.
But the second half was all Genoa as Eastwood fell to 5-2, 3-1.
When Eastwood topped the Comets 14-7 in last year's playoff game at Lake, Greg Hillabrand, then a Lake student, watched from the stands. His view was much better last night.
The junior transfer led Genoa's balanced ground game with 93 yards on 15 carries, including TD runs of 4 and 22 yards.
'Our line just blocked incredible,' Hillabrand said, 'and the defense was amazing. We just went in thinking hit 'em hard.' They're fast and we're fast.
"Now we're going to see who's stronger.'
Senior back Blair Skilliter added 84 yards on 14 carries.
'This is the fastest team we've played this year, and we knew we were going to have to play fast and hard,' Skilliter said. 'We couldn't have played any faster than we did tonight. We had the complete game we needed.'
Junior quarterback Matt Bassitt completed 7 of his 11 passes for 39 yards as Genoa held a surprising 263-95 advantage in total offense, surprising because the Eagles were averaging 432 yards per game.
'Give their defense credit,' said Eastwood coach Jerry Rutherford said. 'They play hard. Our defense gave up 24 points, but it came down to us not being able to move the ball. On plays that broke against other teams, they always seemed like they had a guy there.'
Rutherford's early gamble proved costly as Genoa turned the resulting opportunity into the first half's only points.
On the game's first possession, the Eagles faced a fourth-and-nine from their 37, and opted against a punt. Quarterback Jason Faykosh completed swing pass to the left to Cody Seifert, but Seifert was stopped short at his 45.
The Comets covered those 45 yards in 10 plays with Hillabrand scoring from the 4 with 5:43 left in the first quarter.
Key in the TD march was Bassitt's eight-yard completion to Zach Apel on fourth-and-four from the Eastwood 24.
'This team is a coach's dream because it's the ultimate team,' Genoa coach Mike Vicars said. 'There's so many guys who contribute and nobody cares who gets the credit. The fact that we've been able to play so many kids has just kept us so fresh and so hungry.'
After halftime Genoa needed just five plays to move 61 yards and go up 14-0 on Hillbrand's 22-yard cutback run with 9:38 left in the third quarter.
Their next possession ended in an interception on a fourth-down fullback pass by Marcus Vicars. But that pickoff at the Eagles 2 by Jake Rogers created the field position that set up Genoa's final TD.
The Comets needed to go just 23 yards, with Vicars sweeping around right end two yards for the TD with 1:14 left in the third. James Leach capped the scoring with a 24-yard field goal with 5:33 left in the game.
'Our coaches kept telling us, Don't play too high or too low,'?' said Skilliter, a linebacker on defense. 'You've got to play somewhere in between and keep that intensity the same way the entire game. I think we did that pretty well tonight.'
Genoa, which rushed for 216 yards, held the Eagles to 57 rushing yards on 31 attempts.
'They kept coming after us,' Rutherford said. 'Our defense hung in there, but we just couldn't get anything going offensively.'
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6461.