GALION — Lima Central Catholic used a big first half to soar past Galion by a score of 35-7, spoiling homecoming for the Tigers.
The weather played a factor in the game, which saw each team have two turnovers.
“Our kids have done a great job of getting better each week,” Lima Central Catholic head coach Scott Palte said. “We lost our first game and no one hung their head and felt sorry for themselves. We went back to work on Monday.”
On the first play of the Thunderbirds’ second drive, running back Keiron Bailey rumbled 51-yards for a touchdown to start the scoring with 7:12 to play in the first quarter. Overall, Bailey led the team in rushing with 101 yards on 12 carries.
Thunderbirds’ quarterback Carson Parker hit Traves Hoyle Jr. for a 32-yard touchdown on a 4th and 10 play with 1:49 left in the opening period to extend the lead to 14-0. Hoyle Jr. led the team in receiving with three grabs for 43 yards.
Parker finished 5-for-9 for 53 yards passing while battling the poor weather conditions.
Galion got on the board with less than a minute to go in the first quarter. Quarterback Cooper Kent connected with Hanif Donaldson, who broke a tackle and went 43-yards for the score with 44 seconds to play in the period. That cut the deficit to 14-7.
Donaldson had 124 total yards of offense on Friday night. Kent finished 7-for-20 for 97 yards. Freshman Braxton Prosser was 1-for-4 for 10 yards passing.
However, Lima Central Catholic would waste no time, taking the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for its third score of the first quarter. Hoyle Jr. bounced the return out to the right side and would not be caught, crossing the goal line with 28 seconds left in the first period.
“Lima Central Catholic, you have to give those kids credit. They’re an extremely explosive offense,” Galion head coach Matt Dick said. “Our defense played great all night. We have played great D all year.”
Galion turned the ball over on its next possession when Billy Bourk of Lima Central Catholic came up with an interception off of Kent.
Parker continued the Thunderbirds onslaught with a seven-yard keeper to cap a 7-play, 65-yard drive and give LCC a 28-7 lead with 7:57 remaining in the second quarter. Parker carried the ball 17 times for 73 yards.
A downpour started midway through the second quarter, which put a damper on the offense for both teams. Dick said it provided a learning experience for his ballclub.
“It sucks on senior night that our kids had to deal with this. The truth is you can grow as a man. You can look in the mirror and decide if you are going to do your one-eleventh,” Dick explained.
The two teams traded punts in the third quarter. To end the period, Galion’s Gabe Ivy intercepted Parker to give Galion the ball on the Lima Central Catholic side of the field. The Tigers were unable to do anything with the possession, though.
Ivy led the team in rushing with 78 hard-fought yards on 16 totes. Lima Central Catholic out-gained Galion 217 yards to 210 yards on the ground.
“I just think that we still can’t get out of our own way. It just looks awesome, then something bites us,” said Dick.
Gabe Cira powered in from a couple yards out to round out the scoring for the Thunderbirds with 10:23 remaining in the fourth quarter. It was the only score of a quick moving second half.
“We try to run and pass. We like to mix it up and get our run game going, then throw off it. The conditions weren’t great for it tonight but they got it done,” Palte said.
The Thunderbirds (8-1) extended their winning streak to eight consecutive games with the victory at Galion.
“We were very fortunate to make the state semifinals last year. We have a lot of guys who played last year and are very hungry to get back to that point. I think we have enough ability to get there and make another run,” Palte said.
Lima Central Catholic closes the book on the regular season next Friday with a home game against Fort Loramie. The Redskins (3-6) lost to Lucas 31-8 on Friday night.
Galion (4-5, 2-3 MOAC) wraps up regular season play next Friday at Pleasant. The Spartans (1-8, 1-4 MOAC) dropped a 24-21 decision to Ontario (3-5, 1-4 MOAC) on Friday night.
“I can tell you Pleasant football, they’re going to play ball,” Dick said. “It is going to be week 10 and two evenly matched teams. We’re going to have to find a way to win and send the seniors out the right way. Who knows, maybe we’ll sneak into the playoffs, maybe they’ll be out of reach.”
Dick said he has liked the improvement his team has made during the 2021 season, noting that the future could be bright.
“They have made a lot of strides and there’s a lot of positives. When you’re asking sophomores to be ultra leaders, that’s hard,” Dick said. “When the quarterback is a sophomore and the running back, the whole backfield has to lead senior and juniors up front. They have grown a lot.”
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