Girard proves too strong for Woodridge football in playoffs

Roger Gordon
Correspondent
Woodridge running back Owen Snyder leaps for the end zone during the Bulldogs' 42-21 playoff loss at Girard Oct. 10.

Twice, the Woodridge football team looked as if it was going to make a game of it at Girard Oct. 10 in a Division IV first-round playoff game.

And twice the Bulldogs failed en route to a 42-21 defeat that dropped them to 3-4 on the season.

With about two minutes left in the first half, freshman running back Evan Walker’s 13-yard touchdown run pulled Woodridge to within 21-14. But then the Indians responded by driving to a one-yard TD run just before halftime to make the score 28-14.

The killer, though, occurred at the beginning of the third quarter.

On the opening possession, Woodridge drove right down the field to inside the home team’s 25-yard line. But then sophomore running back Owen Snyder fumbled the ball away, and Girard drove right down the field to another one-yard touchdown run to make it 35-14.

“It was one of those plays where Owen had like a 19-yard gain and he’s fighting for those extra couple yards and lost the ball,” Woodridge head coach Jeff Decker said. “We could’ve cut it to 28-21. Had we done that, you never know would’ve happened.”

According to Decker, his team simply did not play well enough to win.

“We played very inconsistently, too inconsistent to win a playoff game,” he said. “We had bright spots on offense and defense where we did some things really well, but when we messed up we really messed up and gave Girard huge opportunities.

“We stopped ourselves on offense the first three drives of the game with dumb mistakes like a bad snap, a 15-yard penalty … things like that where we just couldn’t overcome those things. Defensively, our game plan was working pretty well, but then we’d have a breakdown or two, and off they’d go on a 95-yard touchdown pass or a 52-yard touchdown pass.

Girard took an early 6-0 lead on a 41-yard touchdown pass. The Indians extended their lead to 14-0 after one quarter on a 95-yard TD pass.

Snyder’s 19-yard touchdown run in the second quarter cut the Woodridge deficit to 14-7.

“It was up the middle, and Owen broke a couple tackles and dove into the end zone,” said Decker.

A 52-yard touchdown strike later in the second quarter upped the Girard lead to 21-7.

In the fourth quarter, senior running back Dayshawn Garr scored from 12 yards out to pull the Bulldogs within 35-21. A 16-yard TD pass for Girard accounted for the final points of the game.

Woodridge junior quarterback Ben Kiser completed eight of 15 passes for 46 yards.

“Girard was really bracketing our best receivers and just making it really hard to get them the ball,” the coach said. “So Ben’s job on the night was just to kind of manage the game, get small chunks in the passing game when we needed it. But, for the most part, we were putting it on our running backs to win the game.”

That running game was led by Garr and Snyder. Garr rushed the ball seven times for 77 yards, including a 43-yard jaunt in the first half. Snyder had 62 yards rushing on eight carries.

“Dayshawn ran the ball really well,” said Decker. “Over these last three or four games, his performance has really been picking up.

“We kind of challenged our running backs about four games ago by telling them, ‘Alright, we’ve been having good games. We’re getting five, six yards, maybe eight yards at a time. We’ve got to start breaking tackles and turning them into 30-yard gains." Ever since that, Dayshawn has been doing that.

“Owen was very consistent running the ball against Girard. He can kind of sneak his way to about a one-foot gap, kind of get his body skinny and get through there and turn nothing into something. He got us a couple first downs on runs when we were in trouble with third-and-long plays. That was awesome.”

Walker had five rushes for 22 yards, junior running back Haniel Fanka gained 19 yards on four carries and junior wide receiver Kamari Mitchell had a 17-yard run on a reverse.

Senior wide receiver Owen Thompson had three receptions for 26 yards, while junior wideout Christian Everly caught two passes for 18 yards.

On defense, Garr, doubling as a lineman, and junior safety Luke Radwany each had close to 10 tackles.

Woodridge was scheduled continue its regular season at home against Metro Athletic Conference rival Ravenna Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.