By Jim Flick
Girard High School’s talented one-two punch proved to be too much for Struthers, 45-14, at Arrowhead Stadium on Friday night.
Senior quarterback Dan Graziano ran for three touchdowns, trotting in from 52, 40, and 14 yards. He was the game’s leading rusher, gaining 155 yards in 11 attempts.
But that wasn’t all. Graziano also completed 10 of 16 passes for another 133 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to senior Branden Byrd.
The Indians second punch came from tailback Ahmad Eggleston, gained 95 yards in 19 attempts and twice slamming into the end zone.
Struthers’ offense was led by junior running back David Stewart, who gained 79 yards in 16 attempts.
But the longest run of the night was turned in by Struthers quarterback Tommy Kimbrough, who dashed 62 yards early in the third quarter to score the Wildcats’ second and last touchdown of the night.
Eggleston scored the game’s first points, pounding two yards into the end zone. The touchdown capped a 67-yard, 14-play drive after Girard accepted the game’s opening kickoff. Senior David Meigs kicked the extra point to give the Indians a 7-0 lead.
But Struthers tied the game late in the first quarter, when Mike Kunzer capped a nine-play, 48-yard play by dashing four yards into the end zone. Tyler Adams kicked the extra point to tie the game with a minute left in the first quarter.
But Graziano dashed 52 yards into the end zone in the second quarter, then scored on a 40-yard dash. Meigs’ extra points gave Girard a 21-7 halftime lead.
Kimbrough’s 62-yard touchdown jaunt early in the third quarter, and Tyler Adams’ extra point, brought Struthers within a touchdown of Girard, 21-14.
Meigs scored the Indians next points on a 25-yard field goal. Byrd’s 14-yard touchdown catch came next, giving the Indians a 31-14 lead after three quarters.
Girard’s one-two punch scored again in the fourth quarter, Graziano dashing in from 14 yards out, and Eggleston scoring on a 3-yard run.
Graziano and Eggleston “make people miss and that’s the key,” said Girard coach Nick Cochran.
Cochran also praised the Indians’ defense, saying they effectively shut down the Wildcats’ talented offense. “They’re getting confident.
“Our kids came out and played well tonight,” the Indians’ coach added.
Cochran said that Struthers coach Mark Asher “gives you a lot of different looks on offense,” adding that Kimbrough is a talented quarterback
Asher said, “We started pretty well, but things got away from us. We gave up big plays.”