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  Congson’s First Field Goal Gives Boardman 10-7 Win Over Mooney  
  Ortiz Darts 34 Yards For Spartans Touchdown:   August 25, 2022 Edition  
      Boardman News Sports
      Austin Congson’s 32-yard field goal with 3:04 remaining lifted the Boardman Spartans to a 10-7, come from behind victory over arch-rival Cardinal Mooney last Friday at Mineral Ridge High School’s Joe Lane Stadium, thanks to a great catch of a high snap from center on the kick attempt by Fernando Ortiz.
      “Ortiz did a great job having patience and the ball skills to get the ball down on the tee,” Spartan Head Coach D.J. Dota said.
      The 51st renewal of the series was also the season lidlifter for both schools as the Spartans won for the third straight year and fifth time in the last seven outings against the Cardinals.
      After a scoreless first half and 30:21 overall to start the game, the game looked like it might head to overtime without either team posting a crooked number on the board.
      For Congson, who replaced his brother, Cole – he handled the placekicking duties a year ago – and like his sibling a soccer standout for head coach Eric Simione’s BHS varsity team, too, nerves were expected as he attempted his first varsity field goal but left him once he witnessed his kick splitting the uprights.
      “At first, I was a little bit nervous but my teammates are always there to help and calm me down,” Congson said. “They encourage and support me, which helps me to adjust when I get on the field.”
      Congson said he appreciates both first-year head football coach Dota and Simione with his practice and game schedules.
      “Both coaches are truly amazing this year and I really love it,” he added.
      The Cardinals, coming off an un-Cardinal Mooney-like 1-9 season in ’21, were looking to start the ’22 campaign on a winning note under third-year head mentor Carl Pelini.
      CMHS broke the scoreless tie with 5:39 remaining in the third quarter, scoring on their initial possession of the second half when junior signal-caller Ashton O’Brien found Robert Hardy from nine yards away.
      Nick Pregibon’s placement went right down the middle of the goalposts for a 7-0 Cardinals’ lead, a margin they maintained until midway through the final stanza when senior running back Fernando Ortiz found paydirt from 34 yards out to pull BHS to within a point at 7-6.
      Congson’s extra point attempt then knotted the score at 7-all with 6:04 remaining in the contest.
      Ortiz, who had just two yards rushing on five carries in the opening session, finished the game with 86 yards on 13 totes and the only score BHS could muster.
      He thanked his offensive line for granting his modest request.
      “I just told my line to give me one block and I will bust it for them,” Ortiz stated. “They gave me a block and I just shot it. They caught me earlier on a couple wheel routes and I got some yards, but this was all thanks to my offensive line.”
      Ortiz said the team appreciates their new head coach.
      “He [Dota] expects the best out of us at all times,” he noted. “He’s not going to sell us short and we aren’t going to sell him short, either. We love him, he loves us and we just had to buy in, which we did today. We kept fighting and fought adversity, just like coach said we are going to have to do.
      “Cardinal Mooney is a way better team. It was a good game and I think we underestimated them a bit but we fought through and got the win.”
      The Spartans had a chance to knot the score on a drive that consumed the final 2:52 of the third period and the first play of the final frame, but quarterback Tomas Andujar’s pass on third and six from the CMHS seven yard-line fell incomplete.
      On the ensuing drive for CMHS, O’Brien connected with Carlos Gomez on 62-yard gain on a third and seven from their own 11 yard line before he was hauled down at the Spartans’ 27 yard line.
      O’Brien then found an open Rocco Gentile at the BHS 10 yard line, only to fumble the ball with Andujar recovering and returning the pigskin to their own 20 yard line.
      The Spartans could not capitalize on the opportunity, however, as Andujar’s pass was intercepted by the Cardinals’ Todd White at the Boardman 35 yard line.
      Two plays later, Boardman’s Aiden Berg returned the favor, picking off O’Brien which led to their nine-play, 81 yard drive and their first score of the season.
      After the BHS defense held the Cardinals to a ‘three and out,’ Andujar led the Spartans to the CMHS 16 yard line, which culminated in Congson’s game-winning kick.
      Dota said everyone was on cloud nine when the final gun sounded.
      “We were down in their zone the first time and thought we could kick it, but went for it and didn’t get it,” Dota said. “Then, we got down there and the score was tied and we attempted the field goal. Austin has the leg strength to do it but you get nervous with the guy who has only been around for a month and a half, maybe two months and he’s kicking it.
      “He comes once a week and he had never kicked in any game, ever, so what a kick. He must be on cloud nine right now. I know because we all are. We drove it, were in a fourth and long situation so we decided to kick it. We knew he had the leg and it wasn’t the greatest snap or hold getting it down. It was slow but he made it and that’s good.”
      Dota said Ortiz came up big for the Spartans in the second half after a swarming Cardinals’ defense held him in check the first 24 minutes of action.
      “They did a good job of sticking a lot of guys in the box but made a few adjustments to get him on the perimeter,” Dota added. “I think he ran a little bit different in the second half, too, and felt like he ran a lot harder but again, it’s all reps. It is getting those reps every week and hopefully he continues to do that and get better each week.
      “He broke a bunch of tackles on that touchdown run and has the power. We’ve talked I have become like a dad to him. I’m not always nice to him and he knows that, but it is there for him to be the best runner that he can be. Also, I told him at the end of the game that’s the type of runner you should be all the time. Sometimes, it is just a gear that he must use.
      “Coach [Michael, Jr.] Popio and I call the defense and it’s easy for us to say, but we played really good defense all night and hopefully we can continue to do that. Our guys stepped up when we needed to make plays and that is what I am most proud of. Our guys came out, they didn’t quit, kept fighting and we talk about the hard work that we put in so hopefully it continues to pay off.”
      The Spartans racked up 310 yards of total offense on 66 snaps, registering 223 yards and their only touchdown on 45 ground attempts, going ‘6 of 21” through the air for an additional 87 markers.
      Andujar picked up 95 yards on 27 carries while Ortiz had 86 yards on 13 totes, the two backfield aces combining for 181 of their team’s 223 ground yards.
      Signal-caller Nico Holzschuh was just as effective with his time under center, adding 40 yards of his four carries.
      Andujar was 6 of 18 through the air for 87 yards with an interception while Ortiz led all BHS receivers, hauling in three aerials for 73 yards.
      Cardinals’ head coach Carl Pelini said a few mistakes in the red zone proved costly but was otherwise pleased with his team’s effort.
      “We prepared well enough to win, we played hard enough to win, we just have to learn how to win,” Pelini stated. “It was a hot night and we were able to substitute some guys who gave us good minutes, plus it was a heck of a football game on both sides. Both teams played really hard and it just came down to the field goal attempt and some special team’s mistakes on our part.
      “The turnover in the red zone in a close game, those are mistakes you cannot afford to make. We made a few too many mistakes to win a game like this.”
      The Cards ran 45 plays from offense and racked up 198 total yards offensively, of which all but 10 came via the passing game.
      O’Brien was 16 of 29 for 179 yards with two interceptions while the running game could manage just 10 total ground yards on 16 carries.
      Carlos Gomez led all receivers with three catches for 112 yards, Noah Thomas adding a game-high four receptions for 12 yards.
      Boardman fumbled twice, losing one with an interception to go along with their two miscues while CMHS also fumbled twice, lost one and threw two balls to the opposition.
      Boardman was penalized five times for 60 yards while the Cardinals were pushed back four times for a total of 20 yards in losses.
      The Spartans held a 12-9 advantage in first downs.
      Junior Varsity
      On Saturday, Boardman’s junior varsity grid team defeated Cardinal Mooney, 12-8. The Spartans got touchdowns from Mason Nawrocki on a 22-yard pass from Zack Haus; and Vince Atwood scored on a 5 yard scamper.
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