MARION — Galion picked up a grind-it-out win on the road at Elgin to kick off the 2021 prep football season on Friday night.
The Tigers captured the Comets by a final score of 15-12.
Galion (1-0) got things started on their first drive as Kooper McCabe took a short handoff over the goal line at the 7:42 mark of the opening period to give Galion an early 7-0 lead. McCabe ran for a total of 70 yards on the night.
Flipping sides, Galion forced a fumble, but was unable to do anything with it. Elgin freshman Quinton Harrison picked off Tigers quarterback Hanif Donaldson — making his first start in a new role this season — in the opening quarter, but the Tigers’ defense stood stout.
After a bit of back and forth, Galion struck gold when Donaldson carried the ball seven yards for a touchdown with 9:54 remaining in the second quarter. Galion completed a successful the two-point conversion attempt and made it a 15-0 game.
“Breaking (Donaldson) in as a new quarterback is hard. I do think he ran the ball hard all night. If we can clean up and become more consistent that will help,” said Galion Coach Matt Dick.
Donaldson finished the evening with 192 yards on 25 rushes. The dual-threat offense was working for Galion for the most part, which saw the team attempt just eight passes. He finished 3-of-8 passing for 10 yards. Gabe Ivy caught two balls for 10 yards.
Elgin (0-1) finally found some offensive success when quarterback Cy Starcher got outside for a 21-yard touchdown run with 1:18 to play before halftime. Starcher rumbled for 95 yards on 16 attempts.
At halftime, Galion held a 15-6 lead after a play was called back just before the half that would have put them up three scores over the Comets.
Penalties riddled the Tigers at times. Galion had 12 penalties resulting in a whopping 125 negative yards, compared to Elgin’s four penalties for 35 yards.
“I told them that it is so easy to blame. But that’s not how it works. You have to control your response. We have to watch film, coach up the technique, and see what we were doing wrong,” said Coach Dick.
Elgin pulled even closer in the second half when Starcher got outside and couldn’t be caught, sprinting for an 81- yard touchdown run with 40 seconds to play in the third quarter. That allowed the Comets to cut the Tigers’ lead to 15-13.
Each team stood stout on defense and didn’t allow much for the remainder of the game. Coach Dick was happy about how his guys stepped up when called upon to make a stand.
“We had two defensive starters out tonight. We threw some sophomores out there and, man, did they play remarkable,” Dick said. “You have to give props to Landon Campbell, Carson Frankhouse, and Hunter Miniard at linebacker. All three sophomores — that is amazing. At defensive tackle Clayton Yost, Justin Lester, and Alex Griffith (stood out).”
Galion dominated the final statistics: total yards, 308-169; rushing yards, 298-161; time of possession, 29:41 to 18:19. The Tigers averaged 5.6 yards per carry for the night.
Next up is a tough one for the Tigers at home against Carey (0-1), which lost to Hopewell-Loudon 30-15 on Friday.
Coach Dick hopes to see some improvement all around.
“I think it starts with how we respond to adversity. If you practice really hard and work at all of the details, you’re going to have a better performance,” he said.
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