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Boardman gets bounce back win against Bulldogs
September 11, 2019

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One week after being blasted in Erie by McDowell, the Boardman football team headed to Poland for its second straight stern road test to start the season.

Last Friday night's battle with the Bulldogs ended a whole lot better than the one with the Trojans a week earlier. A big second half stand by the Spartans' defense kept the home team off the scoreboard turning a tight tilt into a Boardman blowout. The Spartans shutdown the Bulldogs 27-14 to avoid their first 0-2 start in several seasons. Head coach Joe Ignazio couldn't have been happier with the way his Spartans' showed up in Poland.

"Our kids responded to what we were telling them all week and that was that they were not as bad as they played the previous Friday," he said. "They improved in several areas and we had our biggest improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. That's all you can ask for as a coach."

Coach Ignazio certainly didn't ask for his team to fall behind early in the game, but that's exactly what it did. Poland pushed ahead 7-0 thanks to an 8-yard touchdown by running back Jake Rutana. That scoring run wasn't as disappointing as the interception thrown by Boardman quarterback Zach Ryan that set it up. What happened on the ensuing kickoff, though, turned those Spartans' frowns upside down.

Speedy sophomore Terence Thomas took the Poland kick and blazed 57-yards down field deep into Bulldog territory. On fourth down, Ryan redeemed himself by connecting with tight end Connor Miller on a 31-yard, game-tying scoring strike. It would not be the last time these two buddies, both on and off the field, would team up for a touchdown. Early in the second stanza Ryan would find Miller from 16-yards away to make it 14-7 Boardman. Miller would conclude the contest with 3 catches for 57 yards and those two TD's. A field goal by senior Tommy Fryda would build Boardman a 17-14 lead at intermission. The second half would then be dominated by the Boardman bunch.

The combination of suffocating Spartans' defense, the loss of Poland starting quarterback Brody Todd due to injury and a few Bulldogs' mistakes allowed the visitors to go on a 13-0 run. After Boardman's defense dumped Poland's offense on a fourth and one run, the Spartans would take over at the Bulldogs' 43-yard line. Ryan's 25-yard touchdown run would extend Boardman's lead to 24-14. Boardman's quarterback was potent passing the football in the first half going for 128 yards and two touchdowns, then strong carrying the ball with that long touchdown tote in the second half. Fryda would tack on a 33-yard field goal later in the fourth quarter to give the Spartans' their final margin of victory.

Boardman's brutal early season schedule continues this Friday with another road contest. The Spartans will head south to have a showdown with 1-1 Massillon Jackson. These two former conference cousins (in the Federal League) have split their past two regular season tilts. The Spartans nipped the Polar Bears 39-36 in a road thriller in 2017 then lost 17-7 last September at home. Ignazio is aware of how rare road wins in Massillon can be.

"Jackson is a good football team," he said. "There is no easy game on our schedule."

Without the luxury of a cake slate, the veteran Boardman boss knows his boys will need to keep doing what they did against the Bulldogs. They will also need to keep growing as a group.

"It's all about the maturation process," said Ignazio. "Our young guys need to continue to learn, our older guys need to continue to lead and if we keep getting better each week, we have the opportunity to be a good football team. We did that from the first game to last week. We have to continue that trend."

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