PEMBERVILLE — Who left a lasting impression in the final Suburban Lakes League meeting between Genoa and Eastwood Friday night?
Answer: Genoa's bundle of nonstop motion, Kyle Nutter.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound sophomore running back ripped through the Eastwood defensefor a career-best 219 yards on 41 carries, including three touchdowns, to lead the undefeated Comets to a decisive 32-20 victory.
The three-time defending SLL champions extended their regular-season winning streak to 35 games, including 20 in a row against league opponents.
“It's a step toward getting there,” Genoa coach Mike Vicars said. “If you don't beat Eastwood you're probably not going to win an SLL championship.”
The Comets (6-0, 2-0 SLL) found success handing the ball off to Nutter early and it made the play-calling on Genoa's sideline quite simple the rest of the night.
It was feed it to Nutter and let him do his thing behind a highly effective run-blocking offensive line of Luke Sutter, Matt Keaton, Andrew Hayes, Evan Wendt and David Magrum.
“I don't think there was any question that our offensive line played very well and the running backs in the backfield that blocked for Kyle Nutter were outstanding as well,” Vicars said. “And Kyle, for a young sophomore, did pretty good.”
Nutter, who scored on runs of 1, 3 and 1 yards, helped the Comets take an 18-7 lead into halftime after gaining 153 yards on 24 carries, including two of his TD runs.
“It was a big win for us,” Nutter said. “Eastwood is always a good team. It's a good rivalry and a respected rivalry and everyone has to be at their best.”
The Eagles (3-3, 2-1) took the opening possession and turned it into a scoring drive that led to a7-0 lead when Matt Klink dumped a pass off to Zach Conkle for an8-yard touchdown completion with 7:53 left.
However, the Comets scored the next 25 points until Eagles running back Pernell Conner scored on a seven-yard run with less than five minutes left in the game.
Genoa's Chris Cuevas finished his team's scoring with an eight-yard TD run.
Conner tacked on a final TD for the Eagles with a one-yard plunge in the final moments.
“Against a team like this, every possession is going to be huge and it's going to be critical,” Eastwood coach Jerry Rutherford said. “Our kids didn't quit. They played right to the end and that's all you can ask of high school kids. I'm proud of them.
“Obviously, this isn't the result we wanted. Genoa is a great football team. This was the league championship. You can say whatever you want, but this was the league championship.”
After Eastwood's initial score, Genoa stormed right back to tie it by marching 80 yards in 10 plays with Nutter capping the scoring drive with a one-yard run.
The score remained tied until midway through the second quarter when the Comets put together another long, time-consuming scoring drive. They marched 83 yards on 13 plays with Nutter scooting around the left side of the line for a three-yard touchdown run with 5:06 left in the second quarter.
Nutter scored on a two-point conversion to give Genoa a 15-7 lead and some early momentum.
An Eastwood miscue set up the Comets' third scoring drive. A shanked punt resulted in Genoa's last possession of the half starting at the Eagles' 20-yard line.
However, the Eagles defense held up enough to force the Comets to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Tyler Pickard to make it 18-7 with under a minute remaining in the half.
Nutter was a workhorse the Comets would ride in the first half, accounting for 24 of Genoa's 26 carries during the first two quarters.
The Comets and Eagles went scoreless during the third quarter as both defenses held strong before each side gave up a pair of scores in the final 12 minutes of play.
Contact Donald Emmons at:email@example.com or 419-724-6302.