GALION — Galion opened up its 2021 Mid Ohio Athletic Conference account by running over River Valley 42-25 on Friday night at Unckrich Stadium.
Senior Hanif Donaldson put up some outrageous statistics, rushing for six touchdowns and 309 yards on 50 carries behind his strong front line. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry against the Vikings.
“The plan is to challenge Hanif Donaldson to be the best player in the MOAC. When he does that we can compete for a championship,” Galion coach Matt Dick said following his club’s second consecutive victory.
River Valley (3-1, 0-1 MOAC) started the scoring on the very first drive, which took just two plays. Vikings’ quarterback Cayden Shidone hit Parker Davis for a 38-yard touchdown just 21 seconds into the game.
Galion (3-1, 1-0 MOAC) would quickly answer to make it a 7-6 game when Hanif Donaldson took it in from two yards out with 5:29 left in the first period. This one was the first of three first-half touchdowns for the senior.
Early in the second quarter, Donaldson would again take it in from four yards out displaying some tough running. His score with 11:17 remaining gave the Tigers a 14-6 lead.
River Valley again struck gold when Shidone hit Grant Butler for a 32-yard touchdown to trim the deficit to 14-12 at the 8:28 mark. Shortly after, Shidone would hit Karson Lang for an 18-yard score with 4:24 to play that gave the Vikings an 18-14 edge. In the first half Shidone was 13-for-19 for 195 yards.
Galion held the ball the final four minutes of the half. Donaldson would carry it in from three yards out with just 24 seconds left in the half. The Tigers held a 21-18 advantage at the break after do-it-all Donaldson picked off Shidone to end the half.
Donaldson had 154 rushing yards on 27 attempts in the first half.
“We’ve been trying to figure out what can they do. We’re a counter team,” Dick explained. “We have some big boys that really love to eat people up. We made a living with it. Man, did Hanif and Sam (Wegesin) hit it hard”
Donaldson started off the second half with a 20-yard touchdown, just a couple plays after a 32-yard run. The senior was electric after his fourth touchdown of the night at the 9:44 mark of the third period.
With time expiring in the third quarter, Donaldson picked up his fifth rushing touchdown from 11 yards out. Galion led River Valley 35-18 with just a quarter to play.
Tigers defensive back Kyle Foust came up with a huge interception of Shidone in Galion territory off to kill a Vikings drive.
After forcing a turnover on downs, the Vikings would score on their first offensive play of the drive. Shidone threw his third touchdown pass of the night to Butler with 7:51 left in the game. Butler’s second touchdown grab went for 38 yards.
Butler led the team in receiving. The junior had 118 yards on four catches.
Shidone finished 18-of-35 for 267 yards. The senior threw four touchdown passes and was guilty of two interceptions.
“Their offense is super explosive. They gave us everything we could handle. We mixed it up, found ways to get to them, and had some timely turnovers,” Dick said of the Vikings.
The Donaldson show continued as he punched the ball in from six yards out with 2:55 to play in the game.
Galion out gained River Valley by a 398-342 yardage edge with 387 yards coming on the ground for the Tigers. Sam Wegesin added 76 yards on the ground for the Tigers.
“I think we played smoother offense and that makes a great impact on the whole game. Our defense always plays great. You have to give River Valley and Coach Green credit for making it tough on us,” Dick stated.
Galion will travel to Marion Harding in Week 5. The Presidents (2-2, 0-1 MOAC) saw a 24-7 lead evaporate in the second half on the way to a 27-24 loss to previously winless Pleasant (1-3, 1-0 MOAC) on Friday.
“Just keeps getting harder and harder every week. We have to find ways to play better. We’re going to run them and coach them really hard. I’m proud of how the team played,” Dick said.
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