Monday, October 20, 2008

Gwinn falls to Knights and their Single-Wing Offense

By MICHAEL MURRAY Journal Sports Correspondent
GWINN - The Gwinn High School football team had a chance to edit its record book Friday night at McCormick Field.

Jake Meneghini and Norway's single-wing offense, however, had other plans.

Meneghini ran for 228 yards and four touchdowns as the Knights held off the Modeltowners, 32-19, in Mid-Peninsula Conference action.

A victory would have given Gwinn its first three-game winning streak since 1999 and its first defeat of Norway since the same year.

Instead, the Modeltowners fall to 2-6 overall and 0-6 in the conference, while Norway improves to 3-5 (2-4 in the M-PC).

Gwinn coach Dick Mettlach said the Modeltowners have no one to blame but themselves.

"We played hard, but we made mistakes and hurt ourselves," Mettlach said. "We had our chances in the first half, but we made some mental mistakes and turned the ball over.

"We shot ourselves in the foot a number of times, and that was the story of the game."

Norway took command midway through the second quarter, courtesy of a Gwinn turnover.

After Meneghini scored for the first time with 5:57 to play in the second, giving the Knights a 12-6 edge, the Modeltowners fumbled on the first play of their next possession.

"That was a mental mistake," Mettlach said. "We audibled at the line; 10 people got it and one didn't. He ran into the quarterback, and the ball was on the ground.

"It was a good (audible). If everyone goes to the right spot, it's a big play for us. Instead, it's a big play for them."

Three plays later, Meneghini took the shotgun snap from center and raced into the right corner for a 22-yard score and an 18-6 advantage.

"It was the same play (as Meneghini's first touchdown)," Norway coach Brad Grayvold said. "The blockers set up the run very well, and when Jake hits the corner, he sees a lot of green grass. For a running back, that's a good vision."

The Knights inserted the single-wing attack in the fourth quarter of a loss to Negaunee two weeks ago. Then last week, they surprised Westwood by employing the offense throughout the game.

Going without a quarterback under center gives the offense an extra blocker, Grayvold said.

"We try to put as many bodies in the hole as we can," he said. "It's been good for us the last couple of weeks. When they take away the inside, we have the speed to take it outside."

Mettlach said his team was prepared to face the single wing.

"They didn't surprise us with anything," he said. "When we got everyone where they were supposed to be, we played it well.

"But then if we get one guy out of position, or have one missed tackle, all of a sudden they're off to the races."

Gwinn took the second-half kickoff and marched 72 yards in nine plays to cut the deficit to 18-13 on Gabe Migda's 12-yard run.

In need of a defensive stop on the next series, the Modeltowners came up short, however. The Knights went 60 yards in nine plays and went up 26-13 on Meneghini's third score.

When Gwinn opened the fourth quarter with another score by Migda to pull within seven points, Norway again responded, this time with Meneghini's fourth touchdown.

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