Monday, September 21, 2009

Galion escapes Upper Sandusky after 5 Brooks TDs


By Aaron Korte, Sports Writer
Tigers' coach says he is disappointed, thinks team might have looked ahead to TC

UPPER SANDUSKY - The last time Cartel Brooks scored five touchdowns in one game, he was in junior high.

And while Upper Sandusky is not a junior high team, Brooks and his Galion teammates may have approached Friday night's Northern Ohio League opener like the Rams were an eighth-grade squad.

The mindset could be understood. Both teams came in with zeros, albeit in different columns, with Galion cruising out of the gate this year to 3-0.

But neither team played like their record indicated as Galion escaped Upper Sandusky with a 34-27 victory.

So it was understandable why Galion head coach Chris Hawkins was a little upset with his team after the victory.

"I've been doing this for 15 years and I don't think I've ever been this upset after a victory," said Hawkins, who stressed he meant no disrespect to the Rams. "Our coaches said when we walked in, 'We're not ready to play.' We didn't see that burning intensity in their eyes like last week. I was very disappointed."

The explanation: The Tigers host traditional NOL power Columbian next week.

"We tried to guard against that but the kids read that stupid J.J. Huddle and all that," Hawkins said. "Of course, Tiffin is a huge game. Did we talk about that? Yes. But did the kids read about that? Absolutely. I know that's what happened. But what I'm (upset) about is that the seniors, and we have 16 of them, allowed that to happen. We did not come out ready to play football."

On the other sideline, new Upper Sandusky boss Jake Moyer saw his team fall to 0-4 on the year, but that is not the approach he and the staff are taking. In their minds, the Rams are just 0-1.

"If I were them, I wouldn't have been too worried about us (coming in at 0-3)," he said. "But I think we're going to be somebody to be reckoned with toward the end of the year. I want us to try to be a very formidable opponent and I don't want people to overlook us. I want them to give us their best shot."

If the Rams continue to play like they did for most of the game Friday night, that goose egg could be cracked soon. Upper Sandusky rolled up 353 yards of offense, between the punishing running of Trevor Thornton and Wyatt Garber (132 combined rushing yards) to the heady play of Cale Sandridge, who threw for 148 yards and ran for another 51.

"Sandridge is developing nicely but he has a ways to go, but he'll get there. We have some compliments that will help him out," Moyer said. "Our running game came alive tonight. We went back to the mother's milk a little bit. We went back to the old school and that's me (and my style)."

Moyer said it was the best effort of the season, despite coming up short.

"Both offensively and defensively, but especially offensively (it was the best of the year)," Moyer said. "Defensively, that single wing really gave us problems, but what killed us was their speed (particularly Brooks). Speed stabbed us in the heart tonight."

Upper Sandusky led, 14-0, with 4:58 to go in the first half on two Cale Sandridge 1-yard touchdown plunges.

The Brooks show began about a minute later when he scored the first and maybe most electrifying touchdown of his five-score night, a 68-yard zig zag through the Rams defense for a touchdown.

After forcing an Upper Sandusky punt, one of only two on the night, Brooks was at it again with a 10-yard TD run. The kick was blocked, leaving Upper Sandusky with a one-point lead with 46 seconds left.

Thornton came back with a solid return to give the Rams good field position, their own 44, to start the drive with 40 seconds to go. With no timeouts to use, Sandridge guided his team to the Galion 17 by working the sidelines and connecting with his favorite target: Chase Kenner.

On third and five with nine seconds left in the half, Sandridge found himself flushed from the pocket and sacked by Steve Vanvliet to end the threat and the half.

The Tigers (4-0, 1-0 NOL) didn't mess around in the second half, but the scoring was the same. Brooks this time took flight to snag a Jack Nicholls pass for an 18-yard score and a 19-14 lead after a failed two-point conversion.

Upper Sandusky took its final lead of the night on the ensuing drive. Wyatt Garber scored on a 4-yard plunge with 5:50 to go in the third. The Rams fumbled the snap and Sandridge was stopped on the two-point conversion attempt but still led, 20-19.

Galion drove 67 yards on the its next drive, with Brooks closing it out with a 1-yard plunge for the score. Ryan Harsh smashed it up the middle to give Galion two more points and a 27-20 lead it would not relinquish.

The Rams stalled out on successive drives inside the red zone, sandwiched around Brooks' final score of the night, an 11-yard TD run with 6:34 left in the contest.

Attempting to run the clock out, Galion's Antwan Wallace put the ball on the turf, one of three Galion turnovers, and Aaron Renner came away with it to give Upper Sandusky life again with 2:15 to go. It took just four plays for Upper Sandusky to find pay dirt with Thornton scoring on a 5-yard run to cut it to 34-27.

Galion recovered Upper Sandusky's onside kick attempt and went to the genuflect offense to close out the game.

Brooks, who rushed for 164 yards on just 13 carries and had another 54 yards through the air, said the line was solid for him all night.

"Everybody blocked and did their job and the holes were there," he said.

Brooks also said his team may have been caught looking ahead.

"We didn't have our mind set the right way," he said. "I don't know what was wrong tonight. We were not hyped up like we should have and we came out dead."

Brooks said his team has been playing with a chip on its shoulder because no one has respected them this year after spending many years as an NOL cellar dweller.

"We have a good class. We're tired of losing and we want to get our program turned around and Coach Hawkins is helping us doing that," he said. "I know they're not respecting us. That's what makes me so angry and makes our team so angry. That's why we're trying to get this turned around so we can change everybody's mind about that."

Hawkins said if his team is going to garner the respect it desires, it starts next week with Columbian.

"Nobody is going to fear us. We haven't done anything. We have to earn that," he said. "When we play and mix that talent with desire and intensity, we're a pretty good football team. When you just try win football games on talent, you're not going to win championships. (Next week) is huge. That has always been our No. 1 goal. When you think of the NOL the last eight, 10 years, you think of Tiffin. They've raised the bar in this league. In order to win the league, it goes through Tiffin."

The Advertiser-Tribune
320 Nelson Street
P.O. Box 778
Tiffin, OH 44883

Galion vs. Upper Sandusky (9/18/09)

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