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  Late TD Gives Boardman 16-12 Win Over Chaney Cowboys  
  September 2, 2021 Edition  
     BY GREG GULAS
      Boardman News Sports
      bnews@zoominternet.net
      Fernando Ortiz’s 10-yard run with 2:12 remaining helped lift the Boardman Spartans to a 16-12, come from behind victory over the Chaney Cowboys last Friday at Rayen Stadium.
      The 36th game of the series between the two teams – the Spartans now own a 22-14 advantage – marked their first meeting since the 2009 campaign as Boardman ran their win streak to five in a row over the Cowboys.
      “We just had to keep fighting and overcome some adversity,” aid Ortiz, who rushed nine times for 28 yards and authored what turned out being the game-winning score. “It is a great feeling to not only get the win but be 2-0 after our first two games. Our third quarter was a bit shaky but we kept fighting and overcame it.
      “We kept pushing, kept our heads up and I have to give a big thank you to my offensive line for those great blocks. They [‘Chaney] have a lot of skilled players and a bunch of great athletes but overall, I felt like we were the better team tonight.”
      Unlike last week when BHS racked up 333 total yards and 304 on the ground, the Spartans (2-0) had to work for everything and found out early on that Chaney, despite losing their starting quarterback, Jason Hewlett, to a season ending injury in their opener against Austintown Fitch a week ago, reserve signal-caller Andrew Gault was more than just a handful.
      The Boardman defense, despite several ill-timed penalties – they were flagged 11 times as a team for 90 yards in losses – rose to the occasion when they needed to.
      After a scoreless opening period, the Spartans took the early 3-0 lead when Carson Essad split the uprights from 28 yards away, that coming at 9:07 of second frame.
      Spartans’ signal-caller Anthony Hightower, who posted a game-high 75 yards on 14 carries, then found a wide open Cam Thompson in the right side of the endzone with 35 seconds remaining in the opening half as BHS built a 9-0 lead – the placement was wide left – heading to the locker room at intermission.
      Hightower, who came on in relief of injured starter, Tomas Andujar, in the second half of last week’s game against Cardinal Mooney and guided BHS to three scores – he also rushed for 60 yards – also connected on seven of his 10 aerial attempts for 84 yards and a tally.
      He likes his team’s resilience and what he has witnessed thus far through their first two games of the season.
      “On that final drive, the only thing I was thinking is that we have to keep pushing,” Hightower added. “We’re a special team and as long as we put our minds to it, we know what we can do so I wasn’t worried at all. I had faith in me and my team and we showed it tonight.”
      Hightower said his team must clean up their penalties because it will eventually cost them down the road.
      “We had a lot of penalties tonight and must clean up that area. We’ll do that in practice this week,” he stated. “Also, we must address some mental errors, must control ourselves, stay poised and play within ourselves. Starting the season with two straight wins does feel great so we’re going to keep riding this wave.”
      Neither team could mount an attack nor penetrate the other’s goal line in the third period but the fourth quarter was a totally different story, as if someone flipped the switch and ordered an offensive attack over the final 12 minutes.
      Gault, who accounted for both Cowboys (0-2) scores, found D.J. Waller from 15-yards away at 10:50 of the final stanza to avoid the shutout but a failed placement left the Spartans with a slim 9-6 margin.
      Chaney then held BHS on their next offensive series, setting up Gault’s second tally of the game, this time scrambling to paydirt from 15-yards out to cap a three-play, 50 yard drive that took just 73 seconds off the clock.
      The second straight failed placement, which sailed wide right, left CHS clinging to a 12-9 lead with seven minutes remaining.
      Enter Hightower and Ortiz.
      Taking over on their own 31-yard line and faced with a third and 15 from their own 26-yard line, Hightower’s pass was interfered with and after the 15-yard penalty was assessed, Hightower called his own number on a third and one, picking up 36 yards to place the ball at the Chaney 23-yard line.
      Five plays later, Ortiz capped the nine-play, 69-yard drive that took 4:48 off the clock with his 10-yard touchdown run to give Boardman the lead for good with 2:12 left.
      The failed placement left the score at 16-12 in favor of the Spartans.
      Chaney’s final drive netted just 19 yards and after Boardman took over, Hightower took a knee twice to run out the clock and preserve their first road victory of the season.
      First-year Spartans’ head coach Seth Antram has now won his first two games as head of the program.
      “It’s definitely a great feeling just to walk away 2-0. It was a great battle on both sides, that’s for sure with both teams battling it out. We were fortunate to come out on top,” Antram noted. “We ran the ball last week against Mooney and I knew they [Chaney] were going to load the box defensively. Offensively, they came out with a couple formations to try to throw us off a little bit, which we kind of assumed they would try to do but didn’t know exactly what they would go with.
      “A wildcat with some different formations of which we were able to finally adjust but it was basically what we expected. I figured it would be whoever had the ball last would be able to pull it out and we were fortunate to be on that side of it.”
      While the Spartans had their way on the ground against Mooney in Week No.1, it was a totally different feeling against the Cowboys.
      “Their defense, they loaded the box and played physical,” Antram said. “We were trying to get the ball on the edge as best we could and they were playing well in space there.”
      Both teams showed an improvement between the first and second weeks, however, both coaches feel that they must still shore up multiple areas moving forward.
      “Penalties for sure. Penalties and the defense,” Antram stated. “They played great but we need to clean some things up. Running the ball, actually, as much as we did against Mooney but just a couple things with our running backs plus the line and a couple things we need to do differently in the box offensively.”
      In addition to Hightower’s offensive performance, Sean O’Horo carried the ball 19 times for 46 yards, Niko Holzschuh was 1 of 2 through the air for 25 yards in relief of Hightower while Cam Thompson was the game’s leading receiver with four catches for 58 yards and a score.
      O’Horo also caught two aerials for 28 yards for the Spartans.
      Gault finished 5 of 8 for 78 yards through the air and a touchdown for CHS, adding a rushing score as well to pace CHS offensively.
      Malik Hunter led Chaney in rushing with 52 yards on nine totes while Waller caught three Gault passes for 64 yards and a touchdown to lead the Cowboys offensively.
      Amill and Antram are no strangers with Antram having served as Amill’s offensive mastermind the past three seasons before accepting the Boardman head coaching job.
      “I appreciate everything Seth has done for me and our program,” Amill stated. “Getting this started from the ground up has been a challenge and he was there every step along the way. Outside football, he has truly been one of my best friends and that will continue to be after Friday’s game. I am happy to see what he is doing and wish him all the best during his season.”
      Amill felt his team played hard and with a break or two, could easily have won their first game of the season.
      “We’re going to always play hard but tonight, they made more plays than we did and made them when they needed to make them,” Amill added. “We had the interception but the pass interference hurt so hats off to them. They played a good game.
      “As for our defensive game plan, every week we just line up and play football. It’s about being tough, having some pride, being physical and just playing. That’s exactly what we came out and did tonight. We were hitting them most of the game, had a couple missed tackles here and there and they got some big first downs on third down.”
      The Spartans travel to Massillon Jackson on Friday while the Cowboys play host to Cardinal Mooney, also on Friday at Rayen Stadium. Both games kick-off at 7 p.m.
       GAME NOTES…In 36 games played during the Spartans-Cowboys series, BHS is now 7-4 since the 2000 season…During their current five-game winning streak, BHS has now outscored CHS by a 192 (38.1 ppg) to 25 (5.0 ppg) count, a plus-33.1 point differential....Defensive standouts for the Spartans included Stephen Conti with two, forced fumbles, while Ashton LaBelle finished as the leading tackler for Boardman. Spartans grading out with winning efforts for the Spartan defense were Bryaden Joseph-Robinson, Sean O’Horo, Conti, Jared Mahood and Joe Sferra.
 
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