Road not kind
Dragons fall to Conneaut, 28-0, in football season opener
LINESVILLE — The Warren Dragons were not without some successes over the course of Monday night’s Class 4A Region 8 opener against host Conneaut, but quarterback Nathan Bortnick would ultimately prove too much to handle.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior would carry the Eagles to a 28-0 shutout, accounting for all four scores and a two-point conversion for good measure.
When asked if he expected to see the Eagles offense find its rhythm so quickly, Warren coach Mark Morelli was unequivocal.
“No, no I didn’t. I’d be lying if I said differently,” he said. “They came out and did one of the oldest principles in football. They dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. You have to tip your hat to them, they did the job up front. That effort is reflected on the scoreboard.”
The Dragons’ opening drive would suffer from holding and false start penalties, but the Eagles would return some of that lost yardage with an offsides flag of their own as both teams took some time to settle in.
A sack by Mason Mihoci would put the ball in Bortnick’s hands for the first series of the game, and the senior wasted no time as he ripped off a keeper for a 20-yard gain.
After two more evasive scrambles of 15 and 5 yards respectively, Bortnick would hit Luke Petergol from 3 yards out for the first of three touchdown passes on the day.
It looked as though Warren would be able to take advantage of a roughing-the-punter penalty on its following possession, but that drive would ultimately come down to a fourth-and 9-at the 11-yard line.
Warren signal caller Micah Passmore would hit Donovan Fiscus for a 5-yard completion, but it was short of the end zone, giving Conneaut the ball back. While the Dragons would see some sporadic success on offense with creative running plays, an overall lack of blocking and rhythm in the passing game would linger.
“We’ve got to look at the film and look at our mistakes and self-evaluate,” Morelli said. “It is just one of those things where, physically, they were pushing us around and we didn’t have any answers for that. With the veterans we have coming back that really surprised us tonight, that we weren’t able to do anything more than what we did.”
Passmore would just miss throws to Alex Borger and Fiscus on the ensuing drive, and both teams would trade possessions back-and-forth until Bortnick was able to make it a two-score game in the closing minutes of the second quarter. With the clock showing 1:01, Bortnick hit Zach Walker on a 76-yard catch-and-run up the middle, and then the former ran in the two-point conversion as well.
The Eagles would get the ball back in the second half, taking advantage of a facemask penalty that would allow Bortnick to finish off an 11-yard run. His final score came on another well-thrown ball to Walker, this one from 22 yards out.
The Dragons will have a short week now, as they travel to meet Franklin on Saturday.
Warren 0 0 0 0–0
Conneaut 6 15 0 7–28
C–Petergol 3 pass from Bortnick (kick fail)
C–Walker 76 pass from Bortnick (Bortnick run)
C–Bortnik 11 run (Lonstreth kick)
C–Walker 22 pass from Bortnick (Lonstreth kick)