CALEDONIA — It lasted until nearly midnight after a 2-hour and 6-minute weather delay.
It ended with a defensive penalty that prevented Galion from attempting a potential game-winning field goal, and it was played with limited spectators amid coronavirus restrictions.
Otherwise, it was just a typical MOAC football opener that saw River Valley hold on for a hard-fought 20-19 victory here Friday night.
Tigers head coach Matt Dick put the game into perspective.
“We waited so long for COVID and jumping through so many hoops. We gave them a sandwich about 8:15 or 8:30 and got some juice going in them. The kids were ready to play,” Dick said.
The delay caused by persistent lightning and thunder and the humidity were factors for both teams.
“Cramping really hurt us tonight. They got to drink more water and get more salt in their system,” Dick said.
River Valley coach Doug Green agreed.
“Nothing about this has been typical. This game is proof of that,” he said.
RV struck first, courtesy of a 12-yard Karson Lang touchdown catch from Cayden Shidone in the left corner of the end zone.
Lang then intercepted a Wilson Frankhouse pass on the Tigers’ next possession.
Penalties hurt the Vikings and Galion took advantage of a bad snap and fumble, placing the ball at the two-yard-line. From there Frankhouse scored and Dominic Pittman’s PAT kick knotted the game at 7-7 early in the second quarter.
Neither team could muster a strong ground game, often employing 4-and 5-wide receiver sets, on a soaked field.
“I think with the (limited) scrimmage situation, both teams were trying to find themselves,” Dick said. “We got a lot in offensively, but not very much of it looked very good. I think we had some defensive breakdowns too.”
Frankhouse put Galion ahead 13-7 on a 3-yard run, but it lasted only 2 minutes and 29 seconds.
Lang got behind the Tiger secondary for a 40-yard scoring strike that put RV ahead 14-13 at halftime.
Sloppy play in the third quarter by both squads slowed the momentum until junior wide receiver Hanif Donaldson snagged a 13-yard touch pass from Frankhouse to put the visitors on top 19-14.
Jacob Williams and Lavin Ramsey sacked Shidone on the ensuing drive to force a punt; but two incomplete passes stalled Galion’s drive.
Luke Rogers restored the RV lead on a 5-yard burst with 4:34 remaining. Vikings linebacker Cooper Graham’s quarterback sack ended the next Tiger drive.
Galion wasn’t done.
On its next drive, a 15-yard pass to Donaldson put the ball at the RV 35. But time ran out before Pittman could attempt a 52-yard field goal.
“We had some things not lining up right and that hurts the flow of the game. But offensively we need to find ourselves,” Dick said. “Hanif can do some special things running the ball and so can Wilson. A run game is something we are rally going to have to search for.”
Donaldson caught nine passes for 66 yards while rushing for 31 yards in six carries. Frankhouse hit on 11-of-21 pass attempts for 87 yards.
Galion hosts Marion Harding Friday night. The Presidents fell to Pleasant 42-28 after leading 21-0 early.
“I need to look myself in the mirror and ask, ‘What can I add and what can I take away from that fits this group of players?’ We may delete some stuff to be able to play a little faster,” Dick said.