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Grand Valley edges out Pymatuning Valley in rivalry clash

October 6, 2012
By VINCE PELUSO - Special to Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

ANDOVER - Those who think football has evolved into a passing game obviously weren't in Andover Township on Friday night to see backyard rivals Grand Valley and Pymatuning Valley battle it out.

Perhaps no better example of that was Mustangs coach John Galvickas' decision to go for it on fourth and one from his own 28 with 44 seconds remaining in the game and his team leading, 15-12.

The first-year coach's decision paid off as Sean Szitas plowed through the Lakers defensive line to pick up 3 yards and seal the victory for GV (4-3, 1-0 Northeastern Athletic Conference).

"We decided as a coaching staff that were going to keep it in our kids hands rather than let them decide the game," he said. "The kids felt they could get it and they got it."

Szitas was the key cog in the Mustangs ground attack as he ran for 123 yards on 17 carries leading an offense that racked up 219 yards rushing.

GV got the lead early in the fourth quarter when Kyle Orgovan scored from 3 yards out and Szitas rushed for the 2-point conversion to put the Mustangs up.

This came after Quintin Ratliff scored 12-unaswered points for the Lakers (2-5, 1-1) after a first-quarter Mustangs score.

Ratliff scored from 73 yards out in the second then from 46 yards with 5:15 remaining in the third.

The starting quarterback did it all for PV, lining up at tailback, in the slot as a receiver, as well as his natural position under center, as he ran for a game-high 158 yards on 13 carries.

"He really stretched the defense for us and the blocking with J.T. Willis and the line gave us a little bit of a spark there for a little bit," PV coach Neal Croston said. "It was nice to see that out of them."

Next to GV's fourth-down conversion, perhaps the biggest play of the game came on a second quarter sweep play to the junior late in the fourth quarter with PV driving that the Mustangs defense snuffed out and dropped for a 12-yard loss.

That knocked the Lakers out of field-goal range, forcing them to go for a long fourth-down attempt they wouldn't convert, handing the ball over to GV.

"That was a big play right there for us," Glavickas said. "They have a great kicker (Austin Nowakowski), too. We were able to get in there and knock them back. Could've been the difference in the game. Ratliff is a heck of an athlete, he's got so much speed. We did the best we could to keep him under wraps and he still found seams."

Peluso is a sports writer for the Star Beacon in Ashtabula