LIBERTY — “It’s forever ... It’s history,” said an emotional Girard High Coach Bud McSuley following the Indians’ 19-12 victory over Liberty that gave Girard its first undefeated team in school history.
Quarterback Adam Charles completed 24 of 45 passes for 362 yards and tossed the game-winning, 19-yard touchdown pass to Michael Floravit with 1:47 left to give the Indians a home playoff game next week.
“This is something we talked about all year from last year,” McSuley said. “I’m so very proud of these kids. They stayed focused. They did the things they were supposed to do.
“They overcame some adversity [tonight] of turning the ball over. Liberty made some great plays and our kids hung in there and we are 10 and 0.”
Last year, Girard missed out on a playoff berth after going 9-1 and that stuck with the Indians throughout this season.
“After going 9 and 1 last year I remember saying I want to go 10 and 0,” said Charles. “Last year’s loss was a lot of motivation for us this year. We were thinking, ‘we could lose one game and not know if we are going to be in [the playoffs],’ so we were saying we have to go undefeated if we want to make the playoffs.
“We’re the first Girard team to go undefeated but we can’t be satisfied,” Charles said. “We have to be ready for next week and the playoffs and we have to go from there.”
Playing a crosstown rival in “The Battle of Belmont Avenue” isn’t the easiest way to get a last game victory.
The Leopards (4-6) have been a hard luck team, losing four of its six games by a touchdown or less, and they weren’t about to go out without a good showing against Girard.
With the score tied 12-12 at halftime, the teams battled on even terms until the Indians took possession with 3:54 left in the third quarter.
Although Charles had thrown for 281 yards at halftime, Girard pulled in the shotgun and went to an I-formation and ran eight straight running plays with Tallen Birmingham and Charles.
Girard moved from its own 39 to the Liberty 30. Charles then completed two of his next three passes to get to the Liberty 15.
After two running plays by Tallen and a holding penalty on the Indians, Charles found Floravit open in the end zone to put Girard ahead.
The Indians then intercepted a Liberty pass and ran out the clock.
“Its and unbelievable feeling,” McSuley said. “Two thousand and nine will be etched in Girard football history forever.
“First team to ever go 10 and 0.”
Liberty scored first in the contest on a 30-yard halfback option pass from Charles Perdue to DeAndrey Abron in the first quarter to lead 6-0.
Girard then tallied nine unanswered points on a safety and a 39-yard touchdown pass from Charles to Landon Smith to take a 9-6 lead.
The Leopards went up 12-9 on an 11-yard run by Perdue in the second quarter and the Indians’ Dan Melgs’ 24-yard field goal left the two teams tied at 12-12 at the break.