Sandy Valley victorious over Fairless behind Petro-Gilland connection

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A one and a half hour weather delay didn’t stop the Sandy Valley Cardinals and the Fairless Falcons from getting high school football underway in Stark County Thursday night.

In the clash between Sandy Valley and Fairless, the game remained close throughout but the visiting Cardinals ended up victorious by a score of 29-22 thanks to late-game heroics by QB Nick Petro and WR/DB Lukas Gilland.

The opening drive belonged to the Cardinals.

Chad Davis’ determined 7-yard touchdown run set the tone, putting the Cardinals ahead 7-0.

After the first quarter, Sandy Valley held a 7-0 advantage over Fairless, with their first-quarter dominance keeping the pressure on the Falcons.

“We’ve talked about being battle-tested, you know,” Sandy Valley Head Coach Brian Gamble said. Coming out the gate week one, we had to go in and fight.”

Fairless, however, wasn’t ready to yield.

Quarterback Carson Colucci orchestrated a spectacular 69-yard touchdown run, leveling the score at 7-7 with 6:22 remaining in the second quarter.

But the Cardinals weren’t to be outdone.

Facing pressure, Sandy Valley quarterback Nick Petro exhibited composure as he pinpointed Lukas Gilland, who found himself open down the field for a 45-yard touchdown reception. the Cardinals regained the lead at 14-7.

Petro finished the game 13-19 passing for 159 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 125 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown late in the contest.

As the game progressed, the Falcons fought back once more.

Colucci handed the ball to Andy Gill, who launched a 39-yard touchdown pass to Gio Moore to tie the game up at 14-14.

Halfway through the third-quarter, the game was delayed due to lightning strikes. The delay lasted 1.5 hours.

Out of the delay, Fairless’ Colucci scored another long touchdown on a 77-yard run to give the Falcons the lead.

The Falcons had a nasty snap on the PAT but turned the mishap into a successful two-point conversion to make their lead 22-14.

With 8:04 remaining in regulation, Petro responded by connecting with Gilland on a 29-yard touchdown pass followed by a Davis 2-point conversion to tie the contest at 22.

With under 5 minutes remaining in the game, the Cardinals forced a turnover on downs. Sandy Valley took over at their own 27.

The Cardinals chewed the clock to under a minute before Petro called his own number and scored a 13-yard touchdown with :48 remaining in the fourth quarter.

In a last ditch effort, Colucci tossed a ball to the end zone hoping for a Falcon to come down with it. Gilland intercepted it in the end zone.

Coach Brian Gamble said it feels great to start the season 1-0.

“You know, I’ve been on both ends and obviously it feels really good,” he said. “Real proud of our guys. Much respect to Coach Sarbaugh and Fairless over there.”