Junior WR Landon Smith caught three TD passes as the Indians beat Struthers 43-0.
By JIM FLICK
GIRARD — Led by senior quarterback Adam Charles, the Girard Indians celebrated the first game played in their renovated stadium by defeating Struthers, 43-0, Friday night.
Charles tamed the Wildcats by throwing for 239 yards and tossing four touchdown passes. On the ground, he gained 21 yards in three carries.
Girard (2-0) had 399 yards of total offense, while holding Struthers (0-2) to 64 total yards.
“We did the things that Girard football has to do to be successful,” Girard coach Bud McSuley said. “We’ve got a senior quarterback who’s going to make plays, and we’ve got playmakers who are going to score.”
Girard’s offense struck quickly. After taking the opening kickoff, the Indians completed a three-play, 64-yard drive in the game’s first minute. Tailback Tallen Birmingham ended the drive by scampering 13 yard for the touchdown. Birmingham led Girard in rushing, gaining 57 yards on 11 carries, all in the first half.
After the Indians’ defense stymied Struthers on the team’s first offensive series and forced a punt, Girard struck again, when Charles threw his first touchdown of the night, a 56-yarder to Landon Smith.
Later in the first quarter, Smith scored for a second time, this time on a 17-yard pass from Charles. He caught his third touchdown strike later in the second quarter, after David Meigs kicked a 29-yard field goal for the Indians.
Girard led 29-0 at the half and held Struthers to minus-3 yards in total offense in that stretch. Struthers had only two first downs – both gained as the result of Girard penalties.
After tossing a 34-yard touchdown pass to senior Michael Floravit in the third quarter, Charles spent the rest of the game on the bench.
In the third quarter, Smith caught another pass — this one thrown by the Struthers quarterback. Smith intercepted Struthers quarterback Ryan Pollifrone to end a five-play drive, one the Wildcats’ longest offensive series of the game.
Dan Graziano, the sophomore who replaced Charles at quarterback last season when Charles was sidelined with an injury, scored the final touchdown of the game, scampering 23 yards into the end zone in the fourth quarter.
Struthers’ offense was led by junior Keith Auman, who gained 21 yards on 11 carries. Eight backs carried the ball for Struthers, but only five backs actually gained yards.
Struthers quarterback Ryan Pollifrone completed 3 of 9 passes for 23 yards. Struthers also recorded a turnover when the team fumbled the ball away in the second half.
McSuley also praised both his team’s offensive and defensive linemen, saying that they determined the flow of the game.
Girard’s coach also said his team is grateful to the Girard community, whose voters approved the bond levy that funded the extensive renovations of the football stadium among school district’s extensive capital improvements. “I’d like to say thanks to the Girard community for a facility we’re proud to play in,” McSuley remarked.
Struthers coach Dallas Saunders agreed that Girard’s line play was the key to the game. The Indians’ offensive and defensive lines both frustrated the Wildcats all night, he said, which determined the outcome of the game.
“They have a lot of skilled players,” Saunders added. “Girard has a very good football team and that’s how the played tonight.”