HAMMOND | It was homecoming at Fort Pioneer, and the Gavit Gladiators played the role of party crashers.
Gavit (3-4, 1-0) used their size and speed to run past Clark 44-12 in Great Lakes Conference action Friday night.
It only took just two plays on the opening drive for Gavit to score. Quarterback Tashon Rogers hooked up with younger brother Richard for a 51-yard touchdown pass to make it 8-0 with 11:11 left in the first.
“Tashon missed the last two games with an ankle injury, and he was hungry to get back out there,” Gavit coach Robert Robinson said. “I suspected he would have a strong game tonight.”
Clark (1-6, 0-2) went three and out, and Gavit took advantage of excellent field position.
Brandon Phillips took a pitch from Rogers and flew around the left end for a 45-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion made the score 16-0 with 7:18 still left in the first quarter.
“Our young guys are still learning the fundamentals of the game,” Clark coach Jay Novak said. “They’re getting a lot better as the season goes on, but we still have a lot of work to do. We didn’t shut off the corner on that end run.”
In the second quarter, Phillips went right for a 10-yard touchdown run to raise the lead to 24-0.
“Brandon is very fast, and when he gets into the open field he is hard to catch,” Robinson said. “We felt we could leverage our outside speed against a young defense.”
Pioneer quarterback Matt Ramirez came in to start the second half. His first pass was tipped into the hands of Aryk Rivoli-Johnson, who rambled 20 yards for the score.
But Ramirez bounced back to run for 71 yards and a touchdown in the second half. Eugene Walls had 61 yards and a touchdown.
“Gavit has some size on their line,” Novak said. “Rushing yards were hard to come by.”
For the Gladiators, Rogers finished 3-of-7 for 125 yards passing and a touchdown. He also rushed for 92 yards and a score.
Phillips finished the game with 93 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. Behind their big offensive line, the Gladiators totaled 220 yards rushing.
Both teams came in struggling to find offense. The Gladiators averaged 19 points per game, the Pioneers only 12.
Gavit has a 10-8 lead in the series over the last 15 years, which includes a 21-7 home win last season.