Springfield uses defense to propel them in key ITCL win

NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Springfield Tigers used three defensive interceptions and an opportunistic offense to roll over the East Palestine Bulldogs 48-13 on senior night at Springfield’s Community Stadium. The victory improves the Tigers to 6-2 on the season, 2-0 in the ITCL’s Red Tier.

But it was the Bulldogs who looked to take early command of the game as they used a long 14-play drive to reach the Tigers 24-yard line on their opening possession. Facing a third down at the 24, quarterback Parker Sherry had his pass picked off by the Tigers sophomore JT Sandrock at the 10. He was able to return the ball 41-yards to the Bulldogs 49 to set up the Tigers first touchdown.

“I looked over and saw all the green grass ahead and I just wanted to take it to the house, especially for this year’s seniors,” Sandrock said. “That was a big turning point for the game. We figured it was going to be a tough game and once we got that (turnover) our emotions let up a little bit more.”

The Tigers would strike quickly as quarterback hit Ethan Nezbeth on a 47-yard pass down to the 2 before Frank Centofanti would dive into the end zone for a quick 7-0 lead. That touchdown came at the 6:06 mark of the first quarter.

However, the Bulldogs would be unfazed as they answered on another long drive. This time they moved the ball 82-yards on 11 plays with Sherry connecting with JR Davis on a 10-yard strike.

That is when the Tigers would score 41 unanswered points in the game. Centofanti and Luke Snyder would both score on short touchdown runs to push the Tigers advantage to 21-6 with 3:33 remaining before halftime.

With the Bulldogs trying to move the ball down field to score before intermission, Sherry would throw his second of three interceptions at midfield. The Tigers Brandon Walters would haul in the turnover and then provide a tip toe catch in the back of the end zone with just 54 seconds remaining in the half to propel the Tigers to a commanding 35-6 lead.

“Right now our secondary the past two weeks has been challenged between Columbiana and East Palestine and our secondary has really stepped up,” Tigers coach Sean Guerriero explained. “Beginning of the season I think that was weaker part of our team but they have really come the past two weeks and played.”

“We needed to play mistake free football, and we didn’t”, Bulldogs coach Tony Foster admitted. “There were opportunities we had on defense and we missed them. There were opportunities we had offensively, and we missed it, and against a good team you can’t afford to miss those opportunities. They don’t come back to you.”

The Tigers left very little doubt in the ultimate outcome of the game as they came out in the second half to score on their first three possessions on touchdown runs by Centofanti and Joe Santangelo in the third quarter, and an additional run by Santangelo in the fourth. East Palestine would add a late score on a pass from Sherry to Davis with just 2:59 remaining in the contest to provide the final score.

“We just want to push ourselves and accomplish our goals that we set at the beginning of the season,” Guerriero said. “We still have to take it week by week, and keep challenging ourselves.”

“It means we’re closer to the ITCL. One step closer to the playoffs.” Sandrock remarked.

Read more: View all week eight game recaps/highlights

East Palestine (5-2) will host United in week nine. Springfield (5-2) will visit Crestview.