There was no hesitation for Springfield's high-octane offensive engine on Friday night as the Blue Devils put the pedal to the metal right from the starting line in a 42-12 road rout of host Northview.
Springfield, which came in averaging 40.0 points per game, had gotten off to slow starts in Week 1 against Fremont Ross and last week against Bowling Green. On Friday, a stout defense backed an unstoppable offense that forced a running clock in the second half.
Springfield (4-1) improved to 2-0 in the Northern Lakes League, and handed Northview (3-2, 1-1) its first conference loss.
The Blue Devils, who punted just once, scored on three straight possessions to take a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. They tacked on two more scores in the second quarter to seize a 35-6 lead at the half before scoring on their first possession of the third quarter to force a running clock.
“I told the kids we really needed to come and play a team game — offense, defense, and special teams,” coach Pat Gucciardo said. “I was really impressed with the way we moved the ball and scored points. I was even more impressed with us containing their quarterback [Trent Simms] because he is so elusive and can cause so many problems.”
Springfield senior signal caller A.J. Gucciardo, who entered the game leading the NLL in passing (67 of 100 for 1,037 yards and 12 TDs), accounted for three of the scores in the first half.
“We executed and put points on the board,” A.J. Gucciardo said. “Our O-line did a great job, they're phenomenal. Our running game was there. [Junior running back Josiah Pressley] was phenomenal, and our passing game was as good as it always is. That was a great football team that we just beat.”
Gucciardo rushed for two TDs (8 yards and 1 yard) and threw for another, a 49-yarder to Devin Johnson, in the first half. Johnson, who led the conference in receiving (454 yards) coming in, had four catches for 80 yards and two TDs.
“We had to floor it,” Johnson said. “We put the pedal to the gas and we never let up.”
Pressley, who finished with 89 rushing yards, scored on runs of 8 and 20 yards as Springfield built the insurmountable 29-point lead at halftime. Pressley entered the game averaging 8.5 yards per carry, and ranked second in the league in total rushing yards (382).
“We knew coming in we had to start fast, and that's exactly what we did,” Pressley said. “I ran my heart out. I just tried to execute. It was great. This can do a lot for my confidence.”
Gucciardo, who completed 15 of 20 passes for 190 yards, was intercepted on his first attempt but then completed his next five straight passes. Springfield put together an 11-play, 80-yard drive that took 4:57 off the clock to take a 7-0 lead. Gucciardo capped it on an 8-yard scramble up the middle with 5:00 left in the first quarter.
Following an interception by J.T. Hale, Springfield grabbed a 14-0 lead on an 8-yard sweep for a TD by Pressley.
With 20 seconds left in the first quarter, Springfield went up 21-0 as Pressley scored his second rushing TD of the night, a 20-yard scamper.
The Springfield defense held the Wildcats to six total yards in the first quarter, and forced two turnovers in the first half.
Northview got on the board on a 6-yard TD run by Simms. The point-after attempt failed, and Springfield led 21-6 with 6:23 left in the first half. Simms had a key 21-yard run on the 12-play, 84-yard drive (11 plays on the ground).
It took Springfield just three plays (passes of 28, 3, and 49 yards) to score again as the Blue Devils took a 28-6 lead with 5:14 left in the second quarter. Johnson had a nifty juke move after his catch, and then sprinted in for a 49-yard TD.
“We have to give it up to the O-Line,” Johnson said. “They make everything happen.”
Two plays after Antwaan Ellison recovered a fumble for Springfield, the Blue Devils took a 35-6 lead with 26 seconds left in the first half as Gucciardo scored on a 1-yard sneak.
Each quarterback was picked off on their first pass attempt of the game. Simms came up with a circus catch on an interception of Gucciardo as he tipped it up twice and caught it while on his back.
Springfield forced a running clock as Gucciardo tossed his second TD of the night to Johnson (16 yards) as the Blue Devils went up 42-6 with 6:18 left in the third quarter.
Simms scored his second rushing touchdown of the night with a 23-yard sweep around left end to make it 42-12 with 7:26 left.
Coach Gucciardo said his quarterback has not been touched in the pocket in the past three games.
“I was really impressed with our offensive line,” he said. “He didn't take any pressure and, when he decided to run, it was because he didn't want to make a bad decision.”
Springfield avenged a tough 24-21 setback to Northview at home last season.
“We felt the pain we had last year from them beating us in the last second, and we knew had to come out to get it done,” he said.
“This was a revenge game for us,” coach Gucciardo said. “I'm still upset about last year's loss and that still burns me. So we had something to prove and our kids responded. It was pure execution.”
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