By: Aaron Pyle
In the first round of the 3A District Playoffs, Oct. 30, the Trojans (4-5) were able to pull off an upset of the year by defeating undefeated/top-seeded Columbus (8-1) by a score of 29-18. Sophomore quarterback Luke Niggemann provided a key effort for the Trojans accounting for three of Girard’s four touchdowns.
Following the key playoff victory, the Trojans traveled to La Cygne to battle Prairie View (7-1). The Buffaloes were able to defeat Caney Valley (6-4) 44-16 in the first round of the playoffs, Oct. 30. This season, the Buffaloes have outscored opponents by a margin of 276-88. Prairie View’s only loss this season came Sept. 25 where the Buffaloes lost to Burlington, 22-16.
The Trojans and Buffaloes were originally planned to play during the regular season on Oct. 2 but the game was canceled due to COVID-19 quarantining. In the last meeting between the Trojans and Buffaloes, the two sides met last season in Girard on Oct. 11 where Prairie View beat the Trojans by a score of 41-27.
Opening the game, the Trojans received the ball first. On the opening offensive drive for Girard, senior Connor Olivera helped move the chains by working the ball down the sideline. The senior had two runs of 15+ yards on the opening drive. After the hot start, the Trojans would turn over the ball on a fumble which was recovered by Prairie View.
The Trojans forced the Buffaloes to a three and out on their opening offensive drive. Soon following the change of possession, the Trojans were stuck in their territory on a third and long. That’s when sophomore quarterback Luke Niggemann launched a pass downfield to senior Kaden Harrison. The ball was fumbled shortly following the catch which was then picked back up by the Trojans at the five-yard-line in Buffalo territory.
Olivera capped off the 74-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown to put the Trojans ahead first. Sophomore Garrett Humble’s extra-point attempt was blocked.
On the ensuing drive for the Buffaloes, Prairie View quickly responded breaking down the sideline for a 53-yard run which set up the Buffaloes near the red-zone. Continuing their power-running attack, the Buffaloes narrowed the margin on an 11-yard quarterback keeper by junior Damien Kline. The Trojans stopped the two-point conversion by Prairie View as the score was tied at 6-6 with just under three minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Late in the quarter, the Trojans continued to stick with their read-option attack of Olivera and senior Mason Huebner. As it seemed the Trojans were being held back due to penalties and clogged lanes, Olivera struck once again for Girard scoring on a 63-yard run down the sideline to put Girard up once again. The Trojans failed the two-point conversion as they led 12-6 with one minute remaining in the first.
In the second quarter, the two sides exchanged the ball back and forth. Penalties became troublesome for both sides as they combined for nearly 15 penalties within the first half.
As the second quarter became a defensive stalemate, the Trojans led at halftime 12-6.
At the beginning of the second half, the Buffaloes and Trojans exchanged possessions much like the second quarter. The Buffaloes made it a key effort in the second half to attack the three-man front of the Trojans by continually running the ball with senior running back Otis Jacobs.
As the Trojans were unable to execute offensively in the second half, the Buffaloes took advantage of Girard’s missed opportunities by marching down the field. The Buffaloes relentlessly powered the ball with their aggressive running game. With two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Prairie View’s Kline scrambled the pocket once again breaking down the sideline for a 21-yard Buffaloes touchdown. Prairie View made the extra-point attempt as they led the Trojans 13-12.
In the fourth quarter, the Trojans offense continued to remain held in check by the Buffaloes defense as Prairie View continuously forced the Trojans to turnovers on 4th down.
The Buffaloes once again marched down the field credited to the two-person attack of Kline and Jacobs. Prairie View’s offense was able reach all the way to the Trojans 39 until Girard forced the Buffaloes to a turnover on downs with 7:21 remaining in the final quarter.
On the following offensive drive for Girard, the Trojans worked the ball upfield with the read-option attack of Huebner and Olivera. Held to 4th and 3 from the Buffaloes 47, the Trojans were able to move the chains on a quarterback keeper from Niggemann. Huebner and Olivera’s efforts in the running game helped bring the Trojans into the red-zone with four minutes remaining in the contest.
The Buffaloes once again held the Trojans to 4th down and 3 from the Buffaloes 15-yard-line with 2:28 remaining. That’s when Coach Neal Philpot sent out sophomore kicker Garrett Humble for the go-ahead field goal attempt. Humble missed the field goal as the Buffaloes were able to get the ball back with nearly two minutes left.
Girard held the Buffaloes offense to third down until on the next play when Prairie View captured the first down which ultimately helped seal the contest. Prairie View (8-1) went on to prevail 13-12 over the Trojans (4-6).