BY NICK CORN
The Girard Trojans traveled to Burlington Friday night for a district showdown with the 3-4 Burlington Wildcats. Burlington was coming off a 24-21 come from behind victory against Iola, while Girard defeated Anderson County 49-6 a week ago. The Trojans began their dominating performance when Juan Ortiz intercepted a Burlington pass on their first play from scrimmage. Girard was unable to turn the Wildcat mistake into points, but they would soon capitalize on another Burlington turnover. The Wildcats’ second possession of the game was cut short when the quarterback-fullback exchange was fumbled and recovered by Girard. On the Trojans’ first play after the turnover, Kord Curran took the rock 40 yards for the first score of the game with 6:51 left in the first quarter. After the touchdown, Burlington was able to drive the ball inside Girard’s ten yardline, but Girard would hold the Wildcats and get the ball back. In perhaps what was Girard’s best drive of the game, the Trojans ran 14 plays for 91 yards and took exactly seven minutes off the clock. Eric Wilson finished the drive with a five-yard touchdown run to put the Trojans up by two touchdowns.
After a Wildcat punt, Girard scored again on a nine-play, 52-yard drive to take a 21-0 lead before halftime. It appeared the half would end with that score, but Burlington would go sixty yards in three plays to put seven points on the board right before the half. With the Wildcats gaining momentum, it seemed crucial for Girard to have success early in the third quarter, and the Trojans did just that. Facing a third-and-eight, Dylan Page may have had the play of the game when he carried Burlington defenders nearly nine yards for a first down. Page came back with another first-down run, and Curran ran for 35 yards to the Wildcat three-yard line, where Page would finish the drive with a touchdown. Girard forced another Burlington turnover, and Curran scored from nine yards out to quickly give Girard a 35-7 lead in the third quarter. Another Wildcat fumble was recovered by Kross Hamblin and Girard went up 42-7 on their ensuing drive. The only points of the fourth quarter came on a field goal from Ortiz. Besides that field goal, Ortiz was a perfect 6-6 on PATs.
The final score of 45-7 showed the game was obviously lopsided, but the stats show how consistent Girard was in their performance. In the first half, Girard carried the ball 29 times for 170 yards and three touchdowns, and they completed one pass for 13 yards. In the second half, the Trojans carried the ball 29 times for 169 yards and three touchdowns, while throwing for seven yards. In the end, Girard finished with 339 yards on the ground and 20 yards through the air. Burlington finished the game with 198 total yards, and the Trojans held them to just 43 yards in the second half. Leading Girard was Curran, who finished the game with 107 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Page had 13 carries for 73 yards and two touchdowns, and Wilson had an almost identical 74 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns.
With the victory, Girard has clinched a spot in the playoffs, but a win next week at Iola would mean the Trojans would host a first-round game of playoffs, likely against the Columbus Titans.