Game of the Week

Pirates overpower understaffed Saints 42-6

Peyton Miller breaks a tackle and Pirates win big over Saints

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The Tuscarawas Central Catholic Saints had just 22 rostered players when they faced the Garaway Pirates in the OhioSportsTicket.com Malone University Game of the Week on Friday, Sept. 15 in Sugarcreek. Of those 22, four were injured, and another fell to the wayside during action. Operating on a skeleton crew, the Saints were no match for Garaway, which rolled to a 42-6 win.

The first series of the game set the tone for what was coming for the rest of the game. Garaway lineman Ryan Aleshire broke through on the game’s first play to sack Saints quarterback Patrick Gonano. Moments later defensive back Tommy Havranek read a pass and intercepted a Gonano offering near midfield, giving the Pirates the ball.

Garaway quickly turned around and roared downfield, completing a scoring drive when quarterback Dawson Ley found Austin Fearon on a swing pass. Fearon raced 27 yards for the game’s first score.

Led by the hard-hitting tackling of linebacker Dillon Donaldson, Garaway again slammed the door on the Saints offense, this time on a fourth-down sack by Keith Rennicker.

It didn’t take the Pirates long to duplicate their first drive, and the resulting touchdown came courtesy of Ley finding Matt Mullen on an 18-yard strike to make it 14-0 with 1:13 to play in the first quarter.

Garaway would see the Saints move the ball out near midfield, where the drive stalled, but Gonano pinned Garaway deep with a huge punt that rolled dead at the Garaway six.

What came next electrified the crowd on The Hill. Ley dropped back and found freshman Braden Yoder on a swing pass to the right sideline. Yoder skipped around a pair of defenders and cut back toward the middle of the field. He darted around another Saints defender and suddenly had about 75 yards of nothing but green in front of him.

Yoder sprinted a total of 94 yards for the touchdown, pushing the Pirates lead out to 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.

“Brady is a special talent, and he is only going to get better,” Garaway head coach Jason Wallick said of his freshman.

With 4:30 to play in the half, Brady Winters showcased his immense skills by changing gears about seven times as he danced in and around Saints tacklers and then showed an awesome burst of speed as he raced to a 78-yard score to make it 28-0.

 

Winters scored again as the half wore down, darting in from 20 yards out to make it 35-0 at the half. While the half wound down, TCC attempted a final play with 12 seconds to play, and Gonano unleashed a pass to near midfield, where Garaway’s Blake Miller intercepted it and began winding his way across the field from sideline to sideline. He turned the corner and pounded the ball down to the 8-yard line before getting tackled.

“We had our chances in the first half,” Saints head coach Casey Cummings said. “We moved the ball fairly well, but we gave up three long scoring runs that just killed us. We’re down 21-0, and we have it fourth-and-two deep in their end, and if we convert there, we could go into the half down just 21-7. Instead things got ugly. We went in down 35-0, and we are in the locker room at the half with just 18 guys trying to figure something out.”

As much as Winters’ 78-yard score highlighted his ability to change direction and use his quickness to delve out pain, his 13-yard bull rush to pay dirt in the third quarter proved he could bowl tacklers over too as he simply refused to go down and fought his way through a half-dozen Saints defenders and plowed into the end zone for a 42-0 Pirates advantage.

The Saints would break through to put up numbers on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter when Gonano led the Saints on a drive that ended with a Bruce Patterson 2-yard plunge that ended all of the evening’s scoring.

Garaway almost found the end zone as the game wore down, but after Yoder, who had relieved Ley at quarterback, found some daylight and ran the ball 40 yards down to the 1-yard line, he coughed it up, and TCC recovered and ran the clock out.

“We were all pumped up for this game tonight, coming off of that heart-breaking loss to Danville,” Donaldson said. “We were ready, and we showed a lot of mental toughness tonight.”

As the defense did its job, Donaldson said the Pirates’ D fed off of the success of the offense, and they got inspired and pumped up from the big scores.

It did, however, have one big drawback. “Those scores were awesome, but I wish we had a little bigger break to catch our breath,” Donaldson said with a laugh. “It was really great to see our offense have that kind of success, and I thought we fed off of each other well tonight.”

For the game, Garaway outgained TCC 418-154 total yards, even though the Saints ran 55 offensive plays to Garaway’s 41. The difference was the Saints managed just 2.8 yards per play while the Pirates averaged 10.2 yards per play, thanks to the long scoring plays.

Ley was his usual efficient self, competing 14-of-21 passes for 218 yards and three scores. Gonano was 15-of-19 for 66 yards, but he did throw four interceptions. Even so, it was a gutsy effort for a young man who wasn’t much of a threat to play quarterback coming into the year. However, as Saints quarterbacks racked up injuries, Gonano was forced to leave his wide receiver role and take over under center and has done an admirable job.

“We couldn’t ask for anything more than he has given us,” Cummings said of Gonano. “He is a senior who has been thrust into a pretty tough spot after we’ve had so many quarterbacks go down this year. He’s our fifth guy, but he has shown incredible leadership in stepping in and giving us everything he’s got.”

Gonano tacked on another 64 yards rushing the ball. Winters had by far his best game of the year, producing three scores while racking up 165 yards on just eight carries, an eye-popping 20.6 yards per carry.

Yoder finished with five catches for 106 yards, Fearon hauled in five passes for 58 yards and Winters caught three balls for 36 yards. Ryan Dick led the Saints with 35 yards on five carries.

Defensively Garaway got a huge effort in the middle by Donaldson, who racked up seven tackles, while Havranek totaled five.

The Pirates were coming off a devastating 23-20 loss to Danville in a game they entered as a huge underdog and led big, only to fall late.

Wallick said he wanted to see how his team responded to adversity and disappointment. He got the answer he was looking for.

“I am thrilled with the way our kids responded,” Wallick said. “We let one slip away last week, and we needed to come out and play inspired ball tonight, and we did that. We fought very hard last week and never gave up, and we came out and played hard again tonight, and we were able to execute nicely on offense while I thought our defense took a huge step in the right direction.”

As pleased as he was, Wallick went right back into coach mode. “Sure, we still have some things to work on, but overall we have come along nicely as a young team. We’ve matured. We hope faster than people expected us to, but we still have some really important games ahead of us, so we will have to continue to show growth and maturity.”

With just 18 kids dressing, Cummings also said he was pleased with his team’s effort.

“I am not disappointed at all in our effort and in our offense,” Cummings said. “We played hard. I thought we actually saw some continuity tonight on offense than we have had. We just couldn’t finish.”

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