Galena rolls by Elko
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – On a cold, windy night, the top-ranked Galena Grizzlies were red-hot.
Galena scored on all six of its first-half possessions en route to an easy 49-8 Homecoming victory over winless Elko Friday night at Grizzly Field.
The win upped Galena’s record to 7-0 entering its bye week. The Grizzlies host Manogue in two weeks and then visit McQueen to end the regular season.
The game was played with a running clock for approximately 12 minutes in the second half, as per NIAA rules, once the Grizzlies went ahead 49-0.
“We just wanted to work hard out there and make sure we didn’t play down to the level of our opponent,” said senior wide receiver Steve Blackhart, who caught a TD pass and set up another score with a blocked punt. “We wanted to be the best team we could be. Going into the bye week, it was nice to have a comfortable win.”
Head coach Steve Struzyk echoed Blackhart’s statement.
“We’ve been in tough situations the last couple of weeks,” Struzyk said. “We’ve been competing real hard. We’re 7-0 and that was one of our goals (at this point of the season).”
Galena’s defense, led by Jake Hess, Levi Stafford, Max Landis, Jake Mansfield and P.J. Tomaino, held the Indians unofficially to 111 yards total offense. Simply put, it was a walk in the park for the Galena defense, which played its second unit much of the second half. The Indians were only in Galena territory four times the entire game and managed just five first downs unofficially.
Offensively, Galena spent plenty of time in Elko territory.
The Grizzlies drove 65 yards on six plays on their first possession, and it was all Pete Lazzari.
The 145-pound Lazzari carried five times for 65 yards, capping the drive with a 2-yard run. Michael Parker’s PAT made it 7-0 with 10:51 left. Lazzari had runs of 38 and 26 yards, respectively. That was most of his work for the night. He carried just two more times the rest of the game and finished with 72 yards.
An Elko turnover on a lateral gave the Grizzlies great field position at the Indians’ 44-yard line.
On the first play, Jacob Anderson, who was 6-for-10 unofficially for 95 yards, launched a deep ball down the left sideline to Blackhart for a 34-yard gain. A 5-yard facemask penalty made it first-and-goal at the 5.
Anderson was thrown for a 9-yard loss on first down, but Lazzari got most of it back with a 7-yard run down to the 5. On third-and-goal, Anderson rolled left and found Kyle Griffin deep in the end zone for a score. Parker’s kick made it 14-0 with 5:30 left in the opening period.
It was the start of a big night for Griffin, who finished unofficially with four catches for a season-best 90 yards and two scores.
“Kyle has the talent to do anything,” Struzyk said. “It’s finding a spot for him. There is only one ball, and we’re trying to spread it around.”
After Elko went three and out, the Grizzlies went back on the attack, and Griffin again played a big role.
On second-and-4 from the Galena 45, Jake Hess rumbled for 12 yards and a first down at the Indians’ 43. Anderson and Griffin hooked up for 31 yards and a first down at the 12, and then Anderson scored on a bootleg around right end. Parker’s extra point made it 21-0 with 3:18 left.
The Indians held the ball for eight plays before being forced to punt from their own 35. Blackhart roared through untouched and blocked the kick. Mansfield picked it up and brought it all the way down to the Elko 2.
After two unsuccessful plays and a 5-yard penalty, Anderson threw a 7-yard scoring pass to Blackhart for a 28-0 lead.
“I just got put on that team a couple of weeks ago,” said Blackhart, adding that it was his first blocked punt on the varsity level. “Nobody touched me. The (blocking) back was on the other side.”
“That (blocking punts) is something we work on,” Struzyk said. “He’s one of the fastest kids on the team. We wanted to put some speed on the outside.”
Galena added two more scores in the final six minutes of the first half to make it 42-0, as Hess scored on a 21-yard run and Jarrod Faust scored on a 23-yard scamper.
The Grizzlies’ final score came with 3:13 left in the third period when reserve QB Luke Hess tossed a 38-yard scoring pass to Griffin.