Pirates are known for riding the high seas, but on Friday, Aug. 28 in Dalton, the Garaway Pirates took t o the air to defeat the Dalton Bulldogs 41-20.
Garaway gave up a pair of big plays in the first half, one on a botched punt attempt and the other when Dalton quarterback Mitchell Clark found Cody Steiner streaking downfield on a fourth and seven play from the 32-yard line. That score gave Dalton a 13-7 lead, its final edge of the game.
From that point on it became the R.J. Jacobs and Quinn Miller Show.
Jacobs, Garaway’s talented junior quarterback, found Miller on a 30 pass play, then converted on third –and-goal from the one to tie the game at 13-13.
Dalton then drove for what looked like a series that could give them the lead, but Garaway’s defense stiffened and held at the 38.
With 90 seconds to play, Jacobs marched the Pirates down the field and found Miller in the corner of the end zone for a 20-13 halftime lead that was only secured when Tanner Petitte picked off Clark’s desperation heave at the Garaway 10 yard-line.
The Miller then made a sick, leaping sideline catch to get the Pirates down into Dalton territory mid way through the third quarter, before Jacobs burst through the Bulldogs’ line for a 9-yard touchdown that made it 27-13.
At that point, Miller had nine catches for 121 yards.
Garaway then blew the game open by speeding up the pace of the game and marching down the field, freshman Brady Winters’ one-yard plunge doing the honor of moving the lead to 34-13.
Jacobs’ pass to Derek Briggs, with Briggs making some nifty moves around the corner to find the end zone, put the exclamation point on the win. While Dalton would move down field to score a meaningless TD late, it was a Pirates romp to open the year.
1st Down: Securing the corners
Quinn miller and Ty Hamsher were sensational in hauling in 19 combined catches, but head coach Jason Wallick said the key was the guys who weren’t necessarily showing up in the box score.
“We have been on our receivers to block all summer, and Derek Briggs, Carson Troyer did a fantastic job of freeing up the passing game by securing the edge and allowing our receivers to get free,” said Wallick. “That was big because we started seven new guys on offense.”
2nd Down: The freshman in the backfield
Brady Winters may have soothed a lot of people’s nerves when it comes to the task of replacing the weapons from last year’s Pirates playoff team. Winters looked like a seasoned veteran, dashing his way to 89 yards and a score on 19 carries.
“Brady Winters is going to be a very good football player.,” said coach Jason Wallick.
“”That kid is unbelievable, one of a kind,” said quarterback R.J. Jacobs. “I thought here was another freshman coming in, and it takes time for them to get accustomed to the varsity game. Then I saw him play, and said to myself, ‘Man, this kid might help us right now.’”
3rd Down: The Pirates D-Line dominates
Yes, Dalton scored 2o points and found the end zone thrice, but the first came on a 3-yard drive after a botched punt snap, the second was on a missed coverage on fourth and 7 from the 32, and the final one was in garbage time with the back-up unit in.
Garaway did a great job of shutting down prolific junior running back Cody Fitzwater, holding him to just 45 yards on 11 carries. The D also limited QB Mitchell Clark to just 45 yards passing on eight attempts, 32 of those coming on one play.
“We played well defensively the whole game,” said Garaway head coach Jason Wallick. “We gave them the ball on the five yard line, then missed one assignment on fourth down and long, then gave up a meaningless touchdown in the end. We really played a tough ball game from a defensive standpoint.”
Fourth Down: Going Deep
Garaway knew coming in that it had one big advantage before the game even started, boasting a roster of 63 players compared to Dalton’s 38-man roster. Garaway utilized that depth in the second half, often times exploiting the Bulldogs by rushing to the line on offense, where they sped up the game and tired out Dalton’s defense, many of whom played both ways all night.
“We told our kids before the game that we were going to wear them down and wear them out,” said Wallick. “We are 63 strong, and we will go deep all year long to keep guys fresh.”
Man In Motion
Possible Players of the Game were everywhere, but nobody played a larger role in the victory than did receiver Quinn Miller, who looked fantastic in hauling in 11 catches for 169 yards. That included a scintillating 32-yard grab down the sideline in which he turned, twisted, leaped and made a fingertip grab of an R.J. Jacobs pass.
Miller may have taken a back seat to some of Garaway’s lightning quick receivers last season, but he and classmate QB R.J. Jacobs have a real connection together. Miller only scored once, but many of his catches put the Pirates in prime scoring territory.
“Johnny Grant, Ian Shell, Ian Hershberger at linebacker, Tanner Petitte, who we knew was going to be a playmaker for us, they all played key roles on the defensive end of this game, and they are all new starters for us this year.” — Jason Wallick
“We had a lot of young guys coming out, and we needed to weather the storm after the bad start,. Guys were getting down on themselves, and I told them that we have to step it up because this game is just starting. I think all of our heads were spinning a bit early on. But once we got our heads on straight, we came together as a team and worked as one unit.” — R.J. Jacobs
“I expect to catch every ball I get my hands on, and whenever R.J. goes into scramble mode, I think I have a pretty good feel of where he needs me to be and what he is going to want to do with the ball.” — Quinn Miller
“I’d say Dallas is about 95 percent now, and there was no way he was going to let us keep him out of this game, or any other game for that matter. He is a battler out there, and he has become a beast in the middle.” — Jason Wallick on Dallas Foster, who is coming off knee surgery
• R.J. Jacobs – 283 passing yards on 21-of-31 completions, two TD strikes. Jacobs also rushed for a pair of scores, accumulating 54 yards on the ground.
• Double Up – Garaway racked up a total of 441 yards to Dalton’s 222. That includes the Pirates’ first drive of an odd negative-44 yard backward march.
• 10 for 87 – That is the number of Garaway penalties and yardage, certainly figures that Coach Wallick will look to clean up as the Pirates progress.
• 24 to 9 – Garaway’s produced nearly three times as many first downs as Dalton.
• Third down conversions – Garaway was a tidy 6-of-13 on third down, while Dalton struggled at making just 2-of-10.
• 6.5 – That is the number of tackled from junior Ian Hershberger, who was all over the field.
Garaway senior Elizabeth Festi
Instrument/Position: Field commander
Favorite song to play: Dark Horse by Katy Perry
Favorite Band: The White Stripes
What other instrument would she like to play: sousaphone
Favorite subject: Music (She hopes to explore a career in music)
Best band memory: “Our recent band show. When I first walked on to the podium, I realized it was for the last time at that band show. Everything kind of hit me all at once.”