Town Crier Sports Staff
Gosnell combined a suffocating defense with a strong ground attack as the Pirates shanghaied Manila 32-0 Thursday night at J.W. Rea Stadium in Gosnell.
The Pirates rolled up 219 yards of total offense, including 180 on the ground, while scoring four touchdowns, three on the ground and one through the air. Gosnell used a blitzing defense that seemed to confuse the Lions offensively, as Manila managed just 10 yards of total offense on the night, including a dismal 0-10 performance through the air.
Gosnell got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter on a 30-yard touchdown run around left end by eighth grader Gavin Sullivan. The touchdown burst capped a four play, 37-yard drive at the 7:50 mark. Zach Perrin ran in the two point conversion to push the lead to 8-0.
Manila took the ensuing kickoff at their own 21-yard line, but a delay of game penalty and a quarterback sack pushed the Lions back to their 10 yard line. After an incomplete pass by quarterback Dustin Burrow, the Lions were forced to punt from their own 14. The interior of the Pirate line came crashing through to block a Shawn McCallie punt, giving the Pirates excellent field position at the Manila 16-yard line.
The Manila defense stiffened, and on fourth and eight from the 14-yard line, eighth grader Shane Lee hauled down Sullivan short of the first down to stifle the Pirate drive. Unfortunately for the Lions, three running plays netted just two yards, forcing another Manila punt from deep in their own territory. Following a short punt, Gosnell took over at the Lion 31-yard line, and Perrin raced 16 yards on first down to the Manila 15. Four plays later, Sullivan ran right up the middle for the score with just 13 seconds left before the half, giving Gosnell a 14-0 lead. Kalen Leaks converted the two point play and the Pirates held a 16-0 advantage at the half.
Both teams had trouble hanging onto the ball in the third quarter, exchanging two turnovers apiece, before the Pirates struck again on a 39-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Cody Johnson to Sullivan, pushing the Pirate lead to 22-0. Sullivan sneaked behind the Lion secondary, hauling in Johnson's pass at the Lion 20, and scampered untouched into the end zone. Zach Riggs ran in the two point conversion for a 24-0 Pirate lead with 4:20 left in the third period.
Leaks scored the game's final touchdown with a five yard run at the 7:10 mark of the fourth quarter, and when Johnson converted the two point attempt, the Pirates led 32-0. Manila picked up their initial first down midway through the third quarter on a roughing the passer penalty. The Lions only other first down came late in the game on a 10-yard run by Dustin Burrow, but Burrow lost the handle on the ball and Gosnell recovered and ran out the clock.
"We didn't execute anything all night long," said Manila Coach Toby Doke. "Gosnell blitzed us almost every play and we seemed to go brain dead in both the line and the backfield. We never could get anything going. Gosnell always plays hard and is well coached. They always have good athletes. We got started off wrong and it just snowballed on us the rest of the night. I told the kids it all came down to execution, and we didn't execute. We played well in our scrimmage games, but we didn't play well at all tonight. We will work hard in practice and try to get things corrected for next week."
"We played hard and the kids came out and executed when we had to," said Gosnell Coach Jim Callewaert. "We had a few first game mistakes, but overall, I am pleased with what we did tonight. Our backs ran hard and that's what we have to have. It was a good win."
Perrin led a balanced rushing attack for the Pirates, gaining 67 yards on eight carries. Sullivan finished with 41 yards on five totes with two touchdowns. Leaks carried five times for 21 yards and a touchdown while Riggs gained 26 yards on six carries. Johnson finished the night 1-1 through the air for 39 yards and a touchdown while running for 14 more yards on four carries.
Burrow ended the game with seven yards on 11 carries and was 0-10 through the air with an interception. Landon Spain had five carries for six yards.
The Lions will travel to Cross County Thursday night to face the Thunderbirds with a 7 p.m. kickoff.