LISBON — If there’s a good time to have your best offensive player sidelined with an injury, the first round of the high school football playoffs isn’t it.
If there’s such as replacing that weapon, doing so with two guys whose combined weight is less than that of one, average defensive lineman on the other side probably isn’t the prescription.
But as they seem to have done every year since the combatants wore leather helmets, Lisbon made it work Saturday afternoon.
Josh Pomerleau and Jordan Torres stepped in for Tobey Harrington and No. 2 Lisbon dominated time of possession in a 28-6 Western Class C quarterfinal victory over No. 7 Jay.
“We had a lot of small kids out there. Josh, I don’t know how many times he ran the ball, but he’s used to running it three times a game. That was his average coming in,” said Lisbon coach Dick Mynahan. “We had a freshman (Torres) out there for a few plays because Josh was getting beat up. Jay is a big, physical team. We had big kids hitting us out there today.”
How small? Pomerleau, a senior, is listed at 5-foot-5 and 130 pounds. And he stands above the 5-3, 125-pound Torres.
How big? Pomerleau pounded out 14 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown. Torres took off nine times for 54 yards, all in the second half.
Neither went down easily, not even in the clutches of Jay tacklers Matt Lancaster (245 pounds), Jordan P. Couture (240), Kyle Storer (205) or Ron Holland (310).
“With Tobey out, we had to have the backups step it up today and run hard,” said senior quarterback Luke Caron, who added 41 yards and two scores. “Jordan Torres, the freshman, he was something else.”
Lisbon (8-1) will host Winthrop (7-2) in next Saturday’s semifinals.
Harrington’s sprained left ankle was heavily taped, and he didn’t play a down on offense or defense. He attempted to help the Greyhounds by kicking off and by delivering water to the huddle during timeouts. His status is week-to-week.
Even without him, Lisbon rolled up 20 first downs and generated 250 of its 328 total yards on the ground. The Greyhounds ran 68 plays to the Tigers’ 36.
“We played a lot of defense in the first half. I don’t know what the total plays were, but I know it was a lot to a little,” said Jay coach Mark Bonnevie. “Any time you play them, you’ve basically got to play mistake-free football, and we didn’t. They rallied. They were without their best player and they still got it done. That tells you what kind of team and coaching staff that is.”
Two sophomores added giant contributions for Lisbon.
Brandon Hovey intercepted two passes. Ryan Riordan engineered a fourth-quarter scoring drive, capped by his own 1-yard scoring plunge.
“From the beginning of the game, coach was telling me to pick one off,” Hovey said. “Being a sophomore, I knew I had to step it up today. I knew I had to do it for my seniors.”
Hovey made both thefts in the second half after Lisbon already owned a commanding 20-0 lead.
Caron’s 25-yard strike to Cameron Graf moved Lisbon to the 1, setting up a quarterback sneak that broke a scoreless tie with 6:05 remaining in the first half. Zack Splude rushed for the two-point conversion.
The second of three consecutive Jay three-and-out possessions in the quarter and a short punt returned the ball to Lisbon at the J-43. Caron connected with Zack Greene for 22 yards, paving the path to Pomerleau’s 6-yard TD run and a 14-0 halftime edge.
Jay (5-4) again failed to move the chains at the outset of the third quarter. Lisbon answered with a 55-yard march fueled by five different ball carriers. Caron crossed the plane from 2 yards out on fourth-and-goal.
“Our line I thought after the first quarter started blocking a little better,” Mynahan said.
Defensive holding and pass interference penalties gave Jay momentum on its lone scoring drive. Zach Bonnevie (6-for-15, 80 yards) applied the finishing touch with an 8-yard toss to Jake Bessey.
Lisbon limited Jay’s running game to 30 yards on 21 carries.
The Tigers were making their first playoff appearance since 2007.
“Hopefully the younger kids will use this as a steppingstone,” Coach Bonnevie said. “But it wouldn’t have been possible without those seniors getting us back here.”