Girard puts it all together vs. ’Dogs
GIRARD — They finally put all of the pieces together, and it came at the right time.
The Girard Indians got contributions across the board and doubled up 17th-seeded Peninsula Woodridge, 42-21, in the first round of the Division IV, Region 13 playoffs Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
“This seemed like a long time coming, but we have eight or nine first-year players starting and the pieces came together tonight, and we’re real happy with this victory,” Girard coach Pat Pearson said. “This is our first home playoff win since 2011. In our state run to the state championship game, we never played a home game.”
More importantly for this ground of Indians, it marked Girard’s first home win of the season.
“We have some great receivers and young athletes everywhere, and it feels great to put it all together and get our first home win this season,” senior Andrew DelGarbino said. “Nic Bengala is a sophomore who played big and made some good catches, made some guys miss and found the end zone a few times and, of course, there’s (junior receiver) Dominic Malito and he’s just incredible.
“Plus, our offensive line was real strong blocking all game. We got Tyler Maddox running downhill and that allowed us to use to run some play-action at (Woodridge). We were just in sync most of the game.”
The 16th-seeded Indians improved to 3-4 and their reward is a trip to play top-seeded Canal Fulton Northwest (6-0) next Saturday.
DelGarbino was 12-for-19 passing for 287 yards. He tossed for four touchdowns and ran for two more scores and another 72 yards.
Malito grabbed seven passes for 104 yards and a touchdown, Bengala had two catches for 111 yards and both were touchdowns. Maddox scored on a 59-yard reception and had 96 yards rushing on 16 carries.
“That was a thing of beauty most of the game,” Pearson said. “We told the kids this week that this is our second season and to go out there and get it started right. They did a great job of preparation and I felt we were ready to go from the start.”
The Indians opened the scoring on their second possession when Maddox caught a short pass and burst his way through the midfield and past several Bulldogs for his 59-yard score.
Girard’s defense also was sturdy, especially in the first half when the Bulldogs didn’t get their initial first down until under eight minutes remained in the second quarter.
After Woodridge’s second possession was three-and-out, Girard started from its own 4-yard line. A few plays later, DelGarbino threw a perfect strike down the seam to Bengala, who completed the 95-yard pass play.
The Bulldogs got within 14-7 in the middle of the second quarter on a 23-yard run from Owen Snyder, but Girard answered right back, as it did all game.
Two plays and 30 seconds later, DelGarbino found Malito on a 52-yard touchdown connection.
Northwest showed some fight, using a 13-yard TD run from Evan Walker to make it 21-14 with 2:41 left before halftime. But that was too much time to leave Girard.
The Indians recaptured their 14-point cushion by covering 64 yards in six plays, with DelGarbino scoring on a 2-yard run with 34 seconds remaining.
Triston Valley recovered a Woodridge fumble on the Bulldogs’ first possession after intermission and Girard went 68 yards on eight plays with DelGarbino capping it with a 1-yard sneak for a 35-14 cushion.
Woodridge, which left with a 3-4 record, made it 35-21 early in the fourth quarter, but Girard punctuated the scoring when DelGarbino hooked up with Bengala on a 16-yard strike.
“I’m excited by the way we played, but now we have to build on that next week,” DelGarbino said. “I’m hoping we’re just beginning to reach our stride.”