LIVERMORE FALLS — Key penalties stalled several offensive drives and forced Spruce Mountain and Lisbon to slug it out on defense the entire first half.
But the Greyhounds (6-0) adjusted their offense, scored two third-quarter touchdowns and sidestepped the Phoenix (4-2) with a 22-6 victory at Griffin Field on Friday night.
“We changed our formation up a little bit. We’ve been working on that a couple of weeks,” Lisbon coach Chris Kates said. “Almost pulled it out the first half. We were trying to wait until we could adjust in the second half, but I am real happy with how the way the offensive line responded in the second half.
“Spruce has some really good athletes over there. Seventy-nine (Trent Tibbetts) was a real problem for us. We were really having a hard time with defensive ends. Second week in a row we faced a real solid defensive line. It kind of got us out of rhythm a little bit.
“We both lost our shots due to unneeded penalties on both sides. I have been telling my kids all year you can’t make those mistakes. In the playoffs, we have to clean that stuff up.”
With the score tied at six at halftime, the Greyhounds figured how to break through Spruce Mountain’s obstinate defense.
Lisbon got the ball on the opening kickoff of the second half and began a quick drive from the its 40 all the way to the Spruce 5. Sophomore Cam Bourget took it from there and scored. Junior quarterback Lucas Francis ran in the conversion, giving Lisbon breathing room with a 14-6 lead with 8:20 left in the third quarter.
Knowing the Phoenix were no pushovers, the undefeated Greyhounds punched in another touchdown at 2:24 of the third quarter after getting the ball back on the Spruce 38. Lisbon moved to the 13 where Francis scored on a keeper. He also spilled into the end zone on the conversion again.
Lisbon’s tough defense made its 22-6 lead hold up after a scoreless fourth quarter.
“It was a tough game. We were physical. I was proud of that point,” Spruce Mountain coach David Frey said. “There was one particular call that hurt us in the third quarter.
“They are a very good team. They are well coached, played hard. They were physical. What can I say — just smash-mouth football.”
No question about that in the first half, where offensive drives ended up sputtering out thanks to penalties on both sides of the ball.
But that’s when both teams started making things happen in the second quarter.
Lisbon ended its drought on offense when the Greyhounds got the ball back the Spruce 37-yard line. Francis sent a 37-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Riley Quatrano for the first touchdown of the game with 1:26 left in the first half. The conversion failed, but nonetheless, Lisbon was on the scoreboard.
The Phoenix responded on the kickoff. Kayle Stewart caught the ball and headed for the end zone for a 91-yard return at 1:26. The kick failed and the teams remained tied at 6 heading into halftime.