The final score wouldn't indicate it, but Genoa's clash with Columbus Bishop Ready was actually a hard-fought battle that featured several critical momentum swings and some big plays by the Comets in a 42-21 victory over the Silver Knights.
In a matchup of two great teams, Genoa, led by Kyle Nutter, David Nutter, Logan Bryer and Kyle Edwards came through in the clutch to lead their team to victory.
Through the first quarter-and-a-half, Ready (7-3) was in control as it grabbed the lead and controlled the tempo.
But like great teams do, Genoa (11-0) buckled down and got to work, tying the game at 7 midway through the second quarter before taking the lead on an 18-yard touchdown run by Ryan Espinoza with 16.9 seconds remaining in the first half.
The Knights responded, scoring on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter when running back Doug Strickler ran through a hole up the middle and raced 74 yards to tie the game at 14.
However, the Comets, as they've done all season, answered the call, driving 63 yards in five plays and scoring on 20-yard run by quarterback Kyle Edwards. The play, which came with the Comets facing a third-and-8 at the Ready 20, saw Edwards drop back for a pass before racing up the middle and darting to his left before beating two defenders to the corner for the touchdown. And because of a Ready penalty on the play, the extra-point attempt was moved up a yard-and-a-half and Genoa decided to go for two, scoring on a pitch to David Nutter that saw him just cross the goal-line to push the lead to 22-14 and give the Comets the lead for good.
The Knights stormed back, driving from their own 32 to the Genoa 9 in eight plays to set themselves up for the tie. However, on third-and-goal, quarterback Matt Yoho rolled to his left and had his pass intercepted by Edwards, ending the Knights' threat and swinging momentum in the Comets' favor.
Genoa proceeded to drive 80 yards in 10 plays, scoring on the first play of the fourth quarter when Kyle Nutter raced up the middle and cut to the left
Espinoza returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown less than four minutes later, pushing the lead to 36-14 and effectively putting the game away.
Defensively, the Comets held the Knights' offensive attack in check for most of then night, not to mention coming up with key plays in the clutch. Bryer led the way with three sacks and Edwards and Jake Young each had an interception.
"Overall, I thought the hogs did a heckuva job tonight," said Genoa head coach Tim Spiess. "Ready said, 'We're going to play 10 (in the box)-man football against ya, but that's not hwo you. Because when our backs get a seam, they're gone. They came out in that goal-line defense and being patient. We were really good tonight."
As usual, it was the Comets' rushing attack that was the difference. Kyle Nutter finished with 23 carries for 187 yards and two touchdowns and David finished with 18 carries for 142 yards and a score. Espinoza had five carries for 48 yards and two total touchdowns.
"We always want to be able to run the ball, and ultimately that rides on the offensive," said Kyle Nutter. "We can't do it without them, and they did a great job tonight. We've got some great back and a great line and that's a good combination.
David Nutter came through with a number of key runs, scoring an important two-point conversion
"Run hard and get what you can get, that's what I do," David Nutter said. "Plus, the line blocked great tonight."
"Hats off to Genoa, they've a great bunch," said Ready head coach Joel Cutler. "We just turned the ball over too much in the red zone. I'm very proud of these guys. We've been to West Virginia. I'm very proud of how hard they fight. I'm very proud of our kids. I hope they don't hang their heads."