LINCOLN — Grand Island made a complete turnaround when it came to turnovers Friday night at Aldrich Field.
After committing six turnovers in a three-point loss to Kearney last week in their season opener, the Islanders played mistake-free football and converted a pair of Lincoln Pius X turnovers into 14 points in claiming a 28-14 victory.
“We always stress it, but we did some extra ball security circle drills this week,” Grand Island coach Jeff Tomlin said. “It was uncharacteristic of our guys and we didn’t dwell or harp on it. I thought we played a clean game tonight without any turnovers and very few penalties.”
The first score of the game came off a turnover — a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown by GI’s Jace Chrisman less than two minutes into the game.
A fumble recovery by the Islanders’ Carson Leiting at the Pius X 34-yard line with 5:42 left in the game led to the final insurance TD — an 11-yard pass on a rollout by quarterback Kytan Fyfe to Chrisman with 2:20 remaining.
Fyfe, a senior, led a dominant second half by the Islanders (1-1), who outgained Pius X 206-36 after intermission and ran 23 more offensive plays than the Thunderbolts to pull away from a 14-14 halftime deadlock.
Fyfe completed 8 of 18 passes for 108 yards and three touchdowns, but also rushed for 73 yards. He had 32 yards on the ground in a 72-yard march to open the second half, which was climaxed by a 15-yard TD throw to Brandon Fox to make it 21-14 with 8:04 left in the third period.
“The first half, we weren’t executing things up front and we weren’t executing in the passing game,” said Fyfe, who threw a 14-yard TD pass to Will Knuth late in the first quarter for a 14-7 advantage. “The coaches kind of laid into us at half, and we needed it. We got things fixed and scored right away.”
Pius X (0-2) seemed to have an answer in the first half. Junior quarterback Tyrus Petsche finished an 81-yard drive with a 1-yard run midway through the first quarter, a march in which he completed passes of 29 and 11 yards to Joe Staab and Sammy Manzitto, respectively.
Petsche found Staab deep over the middle for a 61-yard strike to tie it at 14 with 9:34 left in the first half.
Grand Island’s physical, ball-control offense, however, never let the Pius X attack get going in the second half.
“They (Grand Island) basically went to a two tight end set, put the ball in their quarterback’s hands and just started grinding out four, five, six yards a play,” Pius X coach Ryan Kearney said. “We made some defensive stands there in the second half, and there’s no lack of battle in our guys. Our problems are completely fixable.”