MARION — In a shootout on Friday, the hosting Pleasant Spartans defeated the visiting Galion Tigers to wrap up the regular season; 54-44.
With the win, the Spartans finish the regular season at 8-2 overall and 4-2 in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference play while the Tigers fell to 8-2 with the loss while also finishing the conference season at 4-2.
This game held potential MOAC championship implications but with the Galion loss and the Shelby Whippets (7-3, 5-1) holding off the Clear Fork Colts (6-4, 3-3) by a score of 35-25, Shelby claims the outright title in their first season in the conference.
Galion got the scoring started on Friday night as quarterback Wilson Frankhouse dashed into the endzone for a six-yard rushing score with a little over three minutes gone by in the game. Dominic Pittman added the extra-point to put the visiting Tigers up 7-0. Pleasant would respond as roughly four minutes later, Patrick Blubaugh rushed in from 15-yards out to get the Spartans on the board. Austin Shaffer added the PAT to knot the score at seven points apiece. With 2:40 remaining in the opening frame, Pittman would give Galion the lead back, booting a 27-yard field goal through the uprights to make it 10-7. Another Pleasant response however would give the Spartans the lead after the first 12 minutes of play as Blubaugh found the endzone for a second time, running in from 24-yards out and with the Shaffer PAT, the home team moved ahead; 14-10.
Just 1:05 into the second quarter, Frankhouse rushed in for another TD and Pittman added another extra-point to swing the lead back to Galion at 17-14. Roughly six minutes later, Shaffer would connect with Alex Joachim for a 25-yard aerial score but the PAT would be blocked as the Spartans regained the advantage at 20-17. With under a minute to go in the opening half, Shaffer would score on a five-yard keeper and, following another blocked PAT, Pleasant moved ahead; 26-17. Galion would need just 49 seconds to cut into their deficit as Frankhouse found Isaiah Alsip for a 54-yard score. On the ensuing extra-point attempt, Pittman’s try would be blocked, giving him his first miss of the season after hitting his previous 47 attempts. Heading into halftime, Galion found themselves trailing by three points at 26-23.
To begin the third quarter, the Tigers would once again regain the lead as Frankhouse connected with Hanif Donaldson from 16-yards out and with another PAT from Pittman, Galion marched back ahead; 30-26. With 4:21 remaining in the third, Alsip would rush in for a four-yard touchdown and, with the inclusion of the ensuing point-after from Pittman, the Tigers moved ahead by their largest margin of 11 points at 37-26. However, the home team would follow their trend of bouncing back as Blubaugh scored another rushing touchdown and Pleasant added the two-point conversion to cut the Galion advantage to 37-32 after three quarters of play.
In the fourth, 8:10 rolled off the clock with neither team finding the scoreboard before, with 3:50 remaining in regulation, Shaffer rushed in for a two-yard touchdown. Opting to go for the two-point conversion, Shaffer successfully found Joachim to put the Spartans on top once again; 40-37. That scoring drive would prove to be the jump-off for an exciting conclusion to the regular season as, a little over 1:30 later, Donaldson sprinted his way to a 52-yard touchdown run with Pittman capping the scoring drive with the extra-point to move the visiting Tigers back on top at 44-40. The final minute of the game proved to be a rough go for the Tigers as Pleasant saw Shaffer find Blubaugh for a 63-yard touchdown strike to put the Spartans up 47-44 following the Shaffer PAT. Galion, left scrambling to at least get into field goal range to send the game into overtime, would not be granted the opportunity as Frankhouse was intercepted by Shaffer, who proceeded to run his way into the endzone for the “Pick-Six” while adding the extra-point to bring the game, and Galion’s hopes for a share of the MOAC title, to an end at 54-44.
Combined, the two squads finished with over 1,000 yards of total offense. Galion racked up 568 yards (351 passing, 217 rushing) while Pleasant tallied 457 yards (167 passing, 290 rushing). The Tigers finished with 18 penalties that totalled 180 yards on the night while the Spartans were flagged six times for 55 yards. Turnovers proved costly late in the ballgame especially for the playoff-bound Tigers.
Notable offensive figures for Galion in the loss were: Frankhouse- 25/33 passing, 351 yards, 2 TD, INT, 21 carries, 129 yards, 2 TD; Donaldson- 2 carries, 53 yards, TD, 16 catches, 206 yards, TD; Trevor O’Brien- 9 carries, 29 yards; Alsip- 2 carries, 3 yards, TD, 8 catches, 139 yards, TD; Brayden Eckels- 1 carry, 3 yards, 1 catch, 6 yards and Pittman- 5/6 PAT, FG.
In other games around the league, the Ontario Warriors (3-7, 1-5) won their first conference game of the season, defeating the Harding Presidents (3-7, 1-5); 35-17. River Valley (6-4, 3-3) concluded their regular season on the road in non-league play and were defeated by the hosting Lexington Minutemen; 28-0.
Three teams will represent the MOAC in week 11, Regional Quarterfinals action.
Both Galion and Shelby will be in action in Division IV, Region XIV play on Saturday, November 9 at 7 p.m. The No. 3 seeded Tigers (19.3045) will host the No. 6 seeded Ottawa-Glandorf Titans (7-3; 17.35) at Unckrich Stadium in Heise Park in their first playoff game since 2015. The Whippets, the No. 4 seed in the region (18.85) will play host to the visiting No. 5 seeded Milan Edison Chargers (7-3; 17.375) at Skiles Field. With their week 10 loss at Shelby, the Clear Fork Colts (6-4; 16.0) fell out of the playoff rankings to ninth in the region behind the No. 8 seeded Clyde Fliers (6-4; 16.2).
Pleasant (8-2; 24.0035) finished ranked as the No. 3 seed in the Division V, Region 18 computer rankings and will host their Regional Quarterfinals matchup against the No. 6 seeded Cleveland Heights Lutheran East Falcons (7-2; 18.4444) on Saturday night as well.
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