DALTON — As easy as the Leyton football team’s high-scoring offense had been churning out yardage and points this season, the Warriors hoped that would continue against Anselmo-Merna in their Class D-2 first round state playoff game on Thursday afternoon in Dalton.
But that didn’t prove to be the case as the Coyotes handed Leyton a 42-0 shutout loss to end the Warriors’ season at 6-3.
Leyton entered the postseason averaging over 47 points per game. However, Anselmo-Merna held the Warriors to negative rushing yardage and just five total first downs.
“We had a hard time moving the ball offensively,” Leyton coach Glen Lipska said. “We just couldn’t sustain our blocks very well and they got us out of rhythm. What we were trying to do wasn’t working. We tried to make some adjustments, but they just didn’t go our way.”
Anselmo-Merna held only an 8-0 lead at halftime after Trent Geiser scored the first of his three rushing touchdowns late in the first quarter.
Leyton looked to be in good position to get on the scoreboard just before half when Sam Schumacher picked off a pass deep in Coyote territory. However, the Warriors couldn’t punch it in with four attempts from the 10-yard line.
Lipska credited the play of the Warriors on defense for keeping Leyton in the game.
“I was happy with our defense keeping us right in the game down just 8-0 at halftime,” Lipska said. “I thought we made some really good stands defensively.”
After forcing a punt on the opening possession of the second half, Anselmo-Merna drove 67 yards on 12 plays to extend its advantage to 16-0. Geiser capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge before quarterback Trey Gilligan ran in the conversion.
Anselmo-Merna took total control the rest of the way as the Coyotes scored on all five of their second-half possessions. Gilligan ran in a score from 4 yards out and hooked up with Jake Wells on a 51-yard touchdown strike. Geiser added his third touchdown of the contest on a 24-yard run before Troy Gilligan ran in the game’s final score from 15 yards out with just seconds remaining.
“I give Anselmo-Merna credit,” Lipska said. “They played well today and we just didn’t play our game.”
Geiser ran for a game-high 193 yards on 26 carries for Anselmo-Merna. Trey Gilligan added 70 yards on 18 carries. Gilligan completed 6 of his 9 passes for 97 yards.
Dylan Brenner led Leyton in rushing with 18 yards on seven carries. Leyton quarterback Alex W. Frerichs completed 8 of his 21 passes for 77 yards. Schumacher caught three balls for 65 yards and Chris Melzer had two receptions for 33 yards.
Leyton was making its first playoff appearance since 2007.
“I’m very proud of these guys,” Lipska said. “Like I told them in the huddle after the game, they had a goal of wanting to make the playoffs and they did it. They battled and stayed with it all season. I’m happy for them.”
The win advances Anselmo-Merna into a second-round match up against undefeated Giltner. The Coyotes will host the West bracket’s top seed on Wednesday.
Anselmo-Merna (7-2).......................8 0 8 26 — 42
Leyton (6-3).........................0 0 0 0 — 0
AM — Trent Geiser 16 run (Trey Gilligan run)
AM — Geiser 4 run (Gilligan run)
AM — Gilligan 4 run (Gilligan run)
AM — Jake Wells 51 pass from Gilligan (Run failed)
AM — Geiser 24 run (Pass failed)
AM — Troy Gilligan 15 run (Run failed)