After getting knocked around in their season opener against a strong Dalton team, the Garaway Pirates football team looked to make a statement and bounce back in week two versus the River View Black Bears on Friday, Sept. 1 in Warsaw.
The Pirates did that and more, invoking memories of the past great Garaway offenses that were so explosive by cranking out four second-quarter touchdowns in what eventually became a 34-6 blowout win that evened the Pirates’ record at 1-1.
“That was very important for us to come out and play well after last week,” Garaway head coach Jason Wallick said. “It’s a great building block for a young and inexperienced team after getting smacked around by a really good Dalton team.”
Dawson Ley had a very efficient night helming the Pirates to victory under center, where the quarterback was a proficient 13-of-19 passing, three of his completions turning into touchdowns. Ley also carried the ball eight times for 57 yards while teammate Brady Winters carried eight times for 34 yards and a touchdown. Matt Mullen added three carries for 32 yards on the ground.
“That was an important game for Dawson,” Wallick said. “We need to continue to make him feel more comfortable in the pocket and on the field, and I thought our line did a good job of protecting him. I think for him to come out and hit 13 of his first 15 passes was really big from a confidence standpoint.”
Wallick isn’t used to grooming a new quarterback. In the past seven years he has had R.J. Jacobs there as a four-year starter, and before him Tyler Walter was at the Pirates’ helm for three years.
Winters did even more damage through the air, where he hauled in six catches for a whopping 77 yards with a score. Mullen grabbed five catches for 74 yards and a TD while Tommy Havranek’s only catch turned into a blistering 27-yard touchdown romp.
Defensively, Garrett Hershberger led the way with six tackles. Dillon Donaldson added five while Kory Stress, Mullen and Peyton Miller all tacked on four tackles for the winners.
“Defensively, Dillon Donaldson and Korey Stress are the only two starters we have returning from last year’s team, so we are building a whole new identity on defense too,” Wallick said. “It’s going to take some time because we have nine kids who are basically getting their first extended look at meaningful varsity action.”
Garaway got on the board with a first-quarter score when Ley found Winters out of the backfield for a 7-yard scoring strike and a 6-0 lead.
However, it was the second quarter where the floodgates opened for the Pirates’ offense. At the 10.58 mark in the second quarter, Ley connected with Mullen on a 36-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass, and Miller tacked on the extra point for a 13-0 edge. With a quick stop the Pirates’ offense went right back to work, where they drove down a short field for Winters to punch it in from three yards to make it 20-0 after the Miller extra point.
The Garaway defense again stonewalled the Black Bears, and the Pirates bull-rushed the River View punt, which was blocked and recovered by Mullen for the touchdown to make it 27-0.
Garaway ended the first half by stumping the River View offense again, turning their fourth straight scoring drive into a 34-0 lead when Ley connected with Havranek on the 27-yard touchdown pass.
The second half saw Wallick unload his bench as the starters took much of the final two periods off, giving way to the youngsters, who did allow the late River View score with just under three minutes left in the game.
“We were able to clean up some of the mental mistakes we made that first week, and we made some personnel adjustments that seemed to pay off,” Wallick said. “I thought we did a nice job of responding to a loss.”
The Pirates’ defense limited River View to just 27 passing yards on the night and held the Black Bears to an average of 3.3 yards per offensive snap, compared to 6.9 yards per play for the Pirates.