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  Thomas Returns Pair Of Kickoffs For TDs Boardman Topples Cardinal Mooney, 34-17  
  October 1, 2020 Edition  
      Boardman News Sports
      With one week remaining in the regular season, the Boardman Spartans are arguably hitting their stride while casting an eye toward the playoffs, which begin in a little over a week.
      The fact that they aren’t the same team that failed to score a touchdown during a season opening loss at Austintown Fitch back on August 29, and have put up 88 points the last two weekends, has opponents now taking notice of the upstart Spartans and their maturation metamorphosis.
      A defensive touchdown by Ritchy Evans, two kickoff returns to the house by Terence Thomas – he also caught a 19-yard pass for a tally – and two touchdown passes by southpaw quarterback Jason Triveri in his season debut paced Boardman to a 34-17 victory over the Cardinal Mooney Cardinals in the 47th renewal of their series last Friday at Spartans Stadium.
      With the win, BHS avenged a 28-27 loss suffered at the hands of CMHS a season ago and have now won three of the last five outings – all in even years – between the two rivals.
      The Cardinals, however, still own a 29-18-0 all-time advantage in the series.
      When asked if he could remember the last time his script included a similar start to a game, Spartans head coach Joe Ignazio drew a blank.
      “Gosh, we’ve had a couple close ones, maybe against [Massillon] Jackson or something like that but I’m not sure that we got the ball in,” stated Ignazio. “I can’t remember the last time.
      “Ritchy did a great job in getting his fumble recovery to the house. It was a great effort by him, he was in good position and it starts the momentum of the game off right, exactly how wanted. We missed the kick but our kids are resilient, they’ve learned to weather the storm and it wasn’t like that at the beginning of the year.
      “They’re gaining more and more confidence, week-in-and-week-out and I’m extremely proud of them.”
      The Spartans won the toss and elected to defer to the second half, which led to Evans’ initial score of the game.
      On the Cardinals’ opening drive, two plays yielded just three yards. Faced with a third and seven from their own 39 yard-line, Cardinals signal-caller Pat Guerrieri was crunched by Ryan Henry and Jake Powell for a three-yard loss, fumbled and that led to Evans’ heads up play as he took the ball out of the air, then rambled into the end zone from 36 yards away for the first score of the game and a 6-0 lead just 61 seconds into the contest.
      Three drives later, Guerrieri gave the Cardinals their only lead of the game when he hit paydirt from two yards out to knot the score at 6-6.
      Brian Phillibin followed with the placement and a 7-6 lead for Cardinal Mooney.
      If Evans set the tone of the game with his opening score of the contest, it was Thomas who wrested the momentum back in favor of the Spartans when he took the ensuing kick-off and raced 96-yards to the house for a 13-7 lead and a margin they would not relinquish the rest of the way.
      “I love special teams because they are a big part of the game,” Thomas added. “You get to go out there, make plays and make it easier for the offense. When you’re put in a good position then you are going to make plays.
      “Our game plan coming in was to just execute. The biggest difference between our first game and tonight is that we’ve gotten better as a team. We’ve come together and we’re ‘one’ now. The Spartans.”
      A Phillibin 25-yard field goal with 3:27 remaining in the second period cut the Cardinals deficit to 13-10 heading to halftime.
      Cardinal Mooney (1-4) outplayed Boardman (3-2) offensively in the opening half, racking up 192 yards of total offense – 120 on the ground and 72 through the air – on 33 plays to the Spartans’ 86 yards – 47 rushing and 39 passing – on just 21 snaps.
      The only place not reflected being outplayed offensively was the only place that it mattered and that was on the scoreboard.
      Thomas then took the opening kickoff of the second half 84-yards for a touchdown just 17 seconds into the third quarter and when Triveri found Cam Thompson from 64-yards away for his first initial touchdown pass of the game and season, BHS opened a 27-10 margin at the 7:57 mark of the period.
      Davontae Miller’s four-yard touchdown scamper with 18 seconds remaining cut the Boardman lead to 27-17 heading to the final period of play.
      Triveri then added an insurance tally when he connected with Thomas on a 19-yard strike with 8:30 left to finalize the scoring
      Triveri was 4-of-10 through the air for 102-yards and two touchdowns, also suffering an interception on the first toss in his debut.
      “It feels amazing to get back under center. There are no words for it,” Triveri stated. “On the interception, I was just nervous to get back under the Friday night lights but once I was in there then I was ready to go. After the interception, I had to forget about it and move on.
      “It was just a great feeling to be able to hook up with Cam [Thompson] and Terence [Thomas] for a touchdown.”
      Ignazio singled out both Thomas and Triveri for their play.
      “We had talked earlier in the year. Terence got a special team touchdown against them last year and was like one away from the all-time school record and I talked with him about that all week,” Ignazio noted. “Coaching special teams, it’s great to have a kid like that back there that you can get the ball to.
      “With Jason, we’ve eased his reps in and kind of had an idea of when we were going to get him into the game. He’s been tremendously patient, I know frustrated at times but he got in there and made the most of the opportunity. It was good to see him battle back after that first early interception because it just wasn’t his fault.
      “He had a guy up in his face early so he had to do some things protection-wise. As the game went on, he did exactly what he needed to do to build a little confidence and responded by making some great throws.”
      Ignazio said it has been great watching his team develop since their opening game with the Falcons.
      “It’s part of the maturation process,” he said. “Our kids have grown up. They are willing to show up and be coached, be coached hard and I think early on sometimes they questioned whether they were ready for that.
      “It’s been a different vibe when you can knock off a couple teams, especially an opponent like Cardinal Mooney.”
      Defensively, senior lineman Jake Powell has felt the vibe all year and added a couple sacks and rushed passes against the Cardinals.
      “This is the first time we’ve beaten Mooney on our new home field and we couldn’t have done it tonight without a team effort,” Powell added. “It was just a great group effort by everybody in all phases of the game. This is an amazing feeling.
      “Everyone is on the same page and we’re all striving for the same goal. We’re working together as a team and everything is falling into place. I must thank my coaches for setting me up and putting me in good positions to make those tackles and my other teammates for assisting me. They’re doing their jobs and if they don’t, none of this goes down.”
      Sean O’Horo led the Spartans in rushing with 90 yards on 20 totes while Thomas racked up 34 yards on seven carries.
      Thompson had two catches for 70-yards and a score while Thomas posted 219 all-purpose yards.
      Cardinal Mooney’s Zy’ere Rogers led all rushers with 142-yards on 20 carries, Miller 45-yards and a score on six rushes while Guerrieri posted 38-yards and a touchdown on 12 rushes.
      As a team, the Cardinals racked up 408 total yards – 245 on the ground and 163 through the air – on 53 plays while Boardman accumulated 229 yards – 127 on the ground – on 45 opportunities under center.
      Guerrieri was 15 of 28 for 163 yards and a pick through the air for the Cardinals with Dan Lyons (five catches for 45 yards) and Rogers (four catches for 31 yards) his favorite targets.
      The Spartans conclude the regular season on Friday night when they travel to Canfield to take on the Cardinals. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
      Spartan mentor Ignazio said that Canfield “is a really good football team. They have a combination of size and speed. They are physical and disrupt what you want to do offensively. They do a good job at balancing their run game both inside and on the perimeter. Crawford and Sammarone run hard. Their young QB is talented and has shown he can open up their pass game.”
       GAME NOTES: Head coach Joe Ignazio was happy to have quarterback Triveri back on the field after missing the first four games of the season with an ankle injury. “It was good to see him back. It takes a lot of hard work to get back from an injury like he had. He is a determined young man. For not playing at all up until Friday, he threw the ball extremely well. He got the rust off early, and settled in quickly. It will be good to see him keep getting better each week. The TD pass to Terence Thomas was really good...threaded the needle. Then he aired one out to Cam Thompson. Different throw, but he executed both well” the head coach said.
      Coach Ignazio also lauded the play of the Spartans special teams against Mooney. “Our kick return unit was really good. The entire unit came together and executed. Terence Thomas was the key beneficiary with return TD’s of 96 yards and 84 yards, but it was the entire unit that blocked to open it up. The unit includes Ashton LaBelle, Luke Huzicka, Ritchy Evans, Blaine Strines, Jared Mahood, Nate Fleming, Alex Micco, Sean O’Horo, Stephen Conti, Cam Thompson and Terence Thomas.”
      Thomas tied the all-time career record for TD returns in a career held by Jay Upthegrove (2000-2001 who also has four).
      “We have a talented young kicker in Carson Essad that will continue to get stronger and better. We are excited for what his future holds,” said the Boardman head coach.
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