By Matt Parrino
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News —
ANGOLA — After a half of football Friday night, the North Tonawanda football team was stunned.
The Lumberjacks trailed 20-13 and the Lake Shore seemed to hold all the momentum, scoring all their 20 of its points in the second quarter.
"I knew they had a threat with that pass. We were watching it in their scrimmage and they were beating everybody with it," said Lumberjacks coach Tony Truilizio. "We got beat up with that pass. The first half scared the heck out of me. We expected to come in early and dominate, so we were all in shock."
The second half was a different story.
The Jacks rallied after captain linebacker Taylor Mellott left the game due to a leg injury and outscored the Eagles 33-8, allowing only a late 74-yard touchdown run by Matt Webber with most of the starters out of the game to cruise to a 48-28 victory.
"We started off a little slow but then we really picked it up (in the second half)," said senior running back Jon Zellner. "Taylor went down, a big player on both sides of the ball, and we all saw that, and then a fire started up and we kicked into gear."
Zellner and junior QB Chris Woodard sparked the Jacks in the second half. On the second play of the third quarter, Woodard busted through the linen a QB keeper and outran the defense for a 64-yard touchdown.
The Eagles ran the ensuing kickoff back to the NT 40-yard line, but Zellner blew up Eagles QB Parker Addison on a keeper play to force a fumble. He recovered the fumble too, giving the Jacks the ball back in a tie game with the momentum back on their side.
Truilizio couldn't say enough about Zellner after the game, who scored two touchdowns in the second half, including a 40-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.
"He's a tremendous leader on our team. We expect a lot out of him this season from his defensive end position and running the ball," Truilizio said. "He's a very strong, hard runner for our program. We call him John Deere. I'm very proud of how he played."
Woodard performed well through the air and on the ground, amassing 204 yards passing and another 110 on the ground and three rushing touchdowns.
The junior captain gave all the credit to his lineman after the game, who made holes all game for whomever had the ball. He said he was proud of the way his team fought back after going down in the first half.
"Everybody was a little slow when we were down in the second quarter, so I had to go into the huddle and pick everyone up," Woodard said. "I told them we were going to be all right."
The Jacks were in sync early, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Lake Shore opened with three straight running plays that were stuffed at the line of scrimmage by NT.
After an Eagles punt, NT junior Tyjier Brandy took a handoff from Woodard for a 26-yard gain to put the Jacks in Lake Shore territory. Woodard then connected with his top target on the day, wide receiver Jake Ferry for a large gain down the right sideline. Ferry finished with five catches for 120 yards, respectably filling the shoes of the departed Ian Gilhousen.
Senior back Christian Mahoe finished off the drive with a six-yard touchdown run to put the Jacks up 6-0.
After a Lake Score touchdown on the following drive, NT struck again in the second quarter on a two-yard QB keeper by Woodard.
The Jacks amassed 460 total yards of offense and Truilizio was happy with the way his team executed on offense all game.
Next up for NT is its home open on Sept. 13 against Grand Island. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at George Vetter Stadium.Find the sports desk @tonanewssports and the sports editor @MattParrino on Twitter for all your high school sports coverage.