GALION — The Tigers’ football team opened their 2022 season at home against a very good McComb team. The Tigers fell 54-28, as the Panthers’ offense had their way against Galion.
McComb put together 539 total yards of offense, while the Tigers had 230 of their own. The Panthers had a balanced attack with 271 passing yards and 268 rushing yards.
Andrew Swisher capped off a first-drive touchdown for the Panthers with a one-yard keeper to start the game.
“You have got to give McComb credit. Number 17 is a special running back and a special SAM linebacker. They got 11 kids that are tough, tough, tough — they’ve been there and done it,” Galion’s head coach Matt Dick said.
Swisher would start his season strong with 200 yards rushing on 27 carries.
The first quarter ended with a 7-7 tie as sophomore Braxton Prosser broke loose for a 15-yard quarterback run into the end zone. Prosser got the start for Galion, but junior Cooper Kent played plenty behind center as well.
“I wanted to rotate,” Dick stated. “Sometimes we play them together, sometimes we play them separate. I was happy with both. Cooper started a little slow, Braxton started hot, then they kind of flip-flopped.”
Prosser carried the ball 18 times for 49 yards and completed one pass.
McComb quarterback Grant Dishong flicked the first of his five passing touchdowns to Blake Wittenmyer for a 19-yard score to make it a 13-7, advantage Panthers. The visiting team would score again on a 30-yard touchdown reception by Wittenmyer, putting the Tigers in a 19-7 hole.
Dishong was 11-for-18 passing and threw one interception to go along with his five passing touchdowns. Galion junior Carson Frankhouse made a smart read to jump on a pass in the middle of the field.
Kent answered when called upon and dropped a 32-yard pass into the bread basket of Prosser. You read that right, the sophomore lined up all over the place for the Tigers. Galion trailed 19-14 with just 1:02 till halftime, where they would receive the ball on the opening second-half kick.
The big play bit the Tigers multiple times on Friday night, with 20 seconds left in the first half being an example. Braxton Athauser got open deep and would not be caught on a 56-yard bomb. McComb led the Tigers 27-14 at the break.
In the second half, McComb continued their momentum forcing a stop on fourth down, then turning it into offense. The Panthers got on the board again when Brad Miehls caught a 63-yard touchdown reception from Dishong. The Panthers were able to get open deep often against the home Tigers.
Dishong added in a score on the ground to make it a 41-14 ballgame.
“They smacked us in the mouth and took us to the woodshed a little bit. We will have film and we’ll grow. There were some good spots, it wasn’t all bad,” Dick explained.
Galion answered to start the fourth quarter. Ivy ripped off a big run that set the Tigers up near the RedZone. The junior punched it in just a few players later from four yards out. Ivy rumbler for 92 yards on 14 totes of the ball.
Momentum was on the Tigers’ side as the next McComb drive ended in a blocked punt by Kooper McCabe. Landon Campbell scooped it up and returned it to the Panthers’ three-yard line, where Ivy did the rest. Galion was able to make it 41-28 with 8:37 left on the clock.
On the next drive — McComb burned some clock — capping it off with a 15-yard touchdown reception for Donavin Hepperly. The Panthers found the end zone once more with 1:06 remaining.
“I wish we could have got one more stop, and drove down and scored one more time to make it just a little bit fun, where we could kick an inside.”
Prosser led the Tigers with two grabs for 48 receiving yards. Campbell caught a pass for 20 yards.
Galion will look to get in the win column when they travel to Carey next Friday. The Blue Devils defeated Hopewell-Loudon 37-8 in week 1.
“Last year we played Carey, they went on to win a state championship. I’m telling you right now McComb is going to go deep into the playoffs.”