GENOA — Most people think the Genoa football team is Kyle Nutter and 10 other guys.
Columbus Bishop Ready found out Friday that while Nutter is a force, he’s far from alone in carrying the Comets, who got contributions from a number of underclassmen in beating the Silver Knights 42-21 in a Division IV first-round playoff game.
“When it’s November football, and the leaves are falling off the trees, everybody has to raise their level of play,” Genoa coach Tim Spiess said. “And I thought our underclassmen were outstanding.”
Nutter got his yards, running for 187 and a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. But his brother David Nutter added 138 yards and a TD; Ryan Espinoza ran for one score and returned a punt for another; and Kyle Edwards ran for a touchdown and intercepted a pass in the end zone despite breaking his hand early in the contest.
“And Jake Young dislocated his shoulder, and three plays later he got an interception in the end zone that helped swing the game for us,” said Spiess, whose team improved to 11-0. “We’re missing nine starters, but we keep finding a way to win. Our underclassmen keep battling, and we live to see another week.”
Bishop Ready (7-3) took advantage of a Kevin Nutter fumble to score first, driving 67 yards in 10 plays as Matt Yoho scored on a quarterback sneak with 3:22 left in the first quarter. But after gaining just 42 yards in that period, the Comets drove 70 yards in seven plays to tie the contest midway through the second period. While Kyle Nutter had 32 yards on the drive, David Nutter rode a jet sweep to score from 17 yards out to tie the contest.
Then Genoa got the ball back on its 20 late in the quarter and drove for the go-ahead touchdown, with Espinoza taking the ball 18 yards for the score with just 16.9 seconds left on the clock. David Nutter played a key role in that drive, carrying the ball seven times for 62 yards.
“I’ll get my chances – I realize that,” David Nutter said. “I realize that when I get my chances, I need to capitalize on them to help the team out.”
Bishop Ready tied the game on its first play from scrimmage in the second half as Doug Strickler burst through the middle of the Comets’ line and raced 74 yards for a touchdown. But Genoa responded with a five-play, 63-yard drive and took the lead for good when Edwards went back to pass, then ran 20 yards for the go-ahead score.
“We were throwing a pass to the right, but the receiver got caught up with a linebacker,” Edwards said. “That’s my read, and he was covered.
“Then I saw a lane, and then a saw a cut-back, and then I dove into the end zone for a score.”
The Silver Knights seemed poised to answer with a touchdown as they drove to the Genoa 9. But Yoho threw a pass into the end zone that Edwards intercepted to end the threat.
“We were in a zone, and while their quarterback scanned the field I tried to stay back so he wouldn’t see me,” Edwards said. “And when he threw the ball, I came up and made the play.”
From there Kevin Nutter took over. Genoa moved the ball to Bishop Ready’s 48 as the third quarter ended, and on the first play of the final period Nutter burst through the line and scored.
The Comets got a stop, and on the ensuing punt Espinoza broke away from containment and raced 79 yards for a touchdown. Then Genoa got the ball back late in the quarter and Kyle Nutter, who had 117 of his yards in that period, scored on a 15-yard run to make a Bishop Ready TD that came with just 51 seconds to play virtually meaningless.
While Nutter had a large chunk of Genoa’s 451 yards of total offense, he clearly had plenty of help.
“All the linemen who block for him, all the running backs who carry out their fakes for him [are important, too],” Edwards said. “Everybody on this team has an equal part along with Kyle.”