Galion defense smothers Upper Sandusky
By JON KLEINKNECHT
Inquirer Sports Editor
UPPER SANDUSKY — Galion’s defense pitched a shutout and held Upper Sandusky to less than 100 yards in total offense in a 28–0 win here Friday night.
The win came in the opening round of North Central Conference play and is the third straight for the Tigers since losing their season-opener. The Rams drop to 2–2 overall.
The closest the Rams got the ball to the goal line was the Galion 26-yard line with less than three minutes to play. The Orange-and-Blue featured a smothering defense that limited the hosts to just 93 yards in 53 plays — with 36 of the stripes coming on one play.
“I’ve been saying all along that the strength of our team is our defense,” a smiling Galion head coach Chris Hawkins said after the victory. “We return 10 starters from a great defense from last year.”
He continued, “I am very proud of our secondary tonight. That’s the best pass coverage we’ve done in a long time.”
The Tigers limited Upper Sandusky quarterback Tylor Pritchard to just 5 completions in 18 attempts for 43 yards. They intercepted him once. Pritchard entered the game having completed 60.3 percent of 68 passes for 443 yards in the Rams’ first three games.
They didn’t just keep Pritchard from throwing the ball, though. After rushing for 280 yards and averaging 5.7 yards-per-carry in the first three games, Pritchard finished with minus-17 stripes on 20 rushes against the Tigers. In his first 3 carries, he netted 33 yards. In his final 17, he was dumped for minus-50.
Will Adelsperger led the Rams in rushing with 72 yards on 14 carries. Upper netted only 50 yards on 35 rushes.
Offensively, the Tigers churned out 263 yards in 52 plays. Touchdowns came on a 6-yard David Nay run in the opening quarter, a 1-yard quarterback keeper by Dareian Watkins in the final minutes of the first half, a spectacular 66-yard paydirt burst by Watkins in the third period, and a 1-yard plunge by Watkins in the final stanza. Watkins added a 2-point conversion run and the Tigers scored two more points via a safety in the fourth period. The winners were zero-for-3 in extra-point kicks.
“To come here and play a very good football team and beat them 28–0 — even though we made a lot of mistakes — is a good win,” stated Hawkins. One thing I’m not happy about is us putting the ball on the ground. Fumbles are inexcusable. The ball being on the ground is never acceptable.”
The Orange-and-Blue had 4 fumbles against the Rams.
Nay led the Tigers in rushing with 105 yards on 20 carries.
Watkins added 84 stripes on 17 carries, including 2 carries for minus-2 yards by kneeling down with the ball on the final two plays of the game. He completed 6-of-10 passes for 69 yards and was intercepted once.
Antonio Burket had 2 carries for 4 yards, and Austin Prosser, 1 for 1. Prosser was 0-for-2 passing the ball.
Austin Chaplin was the Tigers’ leading receiver with 3 receptions for 52 yards. Jermaine caught one throw for 9, and Nay had 2 snags for 8 markers.
“We’ve got a lot of things to work on, but we’re one of only half the teams in the NCC who are 1–0 after tonight,” mentioned Hawkins.
TIGER BITES: Prosser averaged 13 yards on 3 punt returns. … Chaplin punted 4 times for a norm of 37 yards per boot.