Game of the Week

Pirates’ huge 42-3 win over Black Bears seems like anything but a blowout

Ethan Roden and the stubborn Garaway D allowed only a first-drive field goal

Following the week-two showdown between Garaway and River View on The Hill in Sugarcreek, the Pirates left the field having carved out a 42-3 win.

While the score appeared to be a blowout, neither head coach felt the score was any indication as to the struggle that took place for both teams.

“This is a vastly improved River View team,” Garaway head coach Jason Wallick said. “We didn’t think we had a good warm-up, and we may have taken them a little lightly, and they fought us every step of the way, and it never felt like this game was as lopsided as the score was. We knew we were in a dog fight. They never quit, and they really tested us in a lot of ways tonight.”

“It was not a 42-3 game,” River View head coach Mike Hemming said. “They are a great team, and you can’t make mistakes against a team like that, and we made a couple at inopportune times. We knew this would be a tough task coming in because they are quick and they spread you out and speed up the game, but I thought our kids gave a great effort all night, and we never quit.”

River View started the game by ramming the ball right down Garaway’s throat. The Black Bears’ running back duo of Garrett Norris and Brendan Shrimplin and quarterback Gannon Unger hammered the Pirates as the River View offensive line provided a huge push. However, the Pirates’ defense stiffened inside the five, and a penalty forced the Bears to settle for a Tim Cool field goal.

The Pirates then took the ball downfield and drove inside the River View five as quarterback Dawson Ley had a couple of big runs and hit Brady Winters for a big gain. But with four cracks at the end zone, the Black Bears’ defense was a complete wall and held the Pirates from punching it in.

Norris broke off a 33-yard run around the right end to get the Black Bears out of jail, but Garaway’s defense, led by Dylan Hershberger and Colson Starner, shut down the drive and forced a punt.

Eventually the Pirates finally found pay dirt with 6:43 to play in the first half when Ley connected with Jaydon Miller, who grabbed the fourth-down pass and broke three tackles on the sideline before plunging in with a terrific effort.

River View would continue to move the ball, but Garaway seemed to have all of the answers on defense the rest of the way.

After getting a big stop, Garaway took the ball down, and Ley found Winters, again on a fourth-down play. Ley fired a pass across the middle, and Winters went up high to haul it in for the score with 2:11 left in the half.

“That was a big score for us because it gave us some momentum going into the locker room,” Wallick said. “They had played us really tough the entire half, so we needed that spark.”

The second half belonged to Garaway as the Pirates pushed across a pair of scores in both the third and fourth quarter, but Wallick said nothing ever felt easy.

The first score of the third quarter came when Ley pounded his way in from three yards out for a score, and the Pirates moved ahead 28-3 when Ley found Matthew Mullen for a 7-yard scoring strike. Mullen also hauled in a 33-yard catch to set up Ley’s 2-yard score.

“I think our offense wore them down with our speed,” Mullen said. “We try to speed up the game, and it can be relentless on a defense. But that whole first half was a grind, and they made us work for everything.”

The defense continued to shine for the Pirates, but each time River View got something going, it seemed like the Bears would get whistled for a penalty that would help stump their drive. River View suffered six penalties for 79 yards, many of those coming at critical times.

“We had some key penalties that really hurt us,” Hemming said. “We also had a couple of turnovers that really hurt us too.”

Ley burst into the end zone from 6 yards out to start the fourth period, and Braden Yoder ended the scoring with a 3-yard run, and on each touchdown Kurtis Neal drove home perfect extra points.

Both coaches agreed that the final score did not do justice to the struggle that took place in what felt like a much closer game.

“It was disappointing because it felt like we played better than the final score. Our kids played hard and left it on the field,” Hemming said of his team that now stands at 1-1. “We have to come right back, look at the field and get better from this game. We have a tough game next week against Claymont, and we are 100-percent positive that we will get better from this.”

The Pirates improved to 2-0 in the campaign, and Wallick said the team unity of this group is one of the major pluses.

“This is a tight-knit team that really believes in each other,” Wallick said. “There is a real sense of family, and they want to do well for each other.”

He said a big part of that belief in one another is learning to trust each other to make plays and play together as one unit, whether it is on offense, defense or special teams.

He said that trust was one of the big reasons that his team was able to convert a large number of key third- and fourth-down conversions on the night, which kept drives alive.

“We didn’t execute last week, and I felt we did a much better job of doing that tonight when we really had to have it,” Wallick said. “I thought that down the stretch tonight we were able to wear them down and took advantage of that, and I think that is a testament to our kids being willing to get in here during the off-season and work hard.”

By the Numbers

  • Ground gains: River View outrushed Garaway 228-162 yards with five athletes racking up between 30 and 50 yards for the Bears. Ley led all rushers by totaling 105 yards on 14 carries.
  • Aerial acumen: When Ley found a target through the air, it usually resulted in big numbers. He completed 15 passes and averaged a whopping 14.3 yards per completion. The Pirates racked up 215 yards through the air while the Black Bears managed just 47 yards.
  • 46: Dylan Hershberger has proved to be a monumental force as a punter, and he hit a monster 46-yard spiral punt to pin River View deep in their own territory. It was his lone punt of the night, and he is averaging a healthy 48-plus yards per punt in two games.
  • So much for time of possession: Time of possession is often believed to be a determining factor in a football game. However, in this one the Pirates had the ball just 16:28 compared to River View’s 31:32. That showed the Bears’ ability to move the ball on the ground, but it didn’t materialize into them being able to cash in for points.
  • Stress out: Garaway starting middle linebacker Kory Stress injured his shoulder seconds into the game and did not return. Colson Starner did a tremendous job in relief and played a great game. River also lost Norris to a knee injury in the third quarter, which was a huge loss for the Bears.
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