BY NICK CORN
Girard opened up their 2014 season with a 21-9 loss to CNC opponent Riverton. If you remember last year’s ballgame between these two teams, you may have expected an offensive shootout. The Trojans took that contest 62-42, but this year’s game was more of a defensive battle, partly due to a wet field. Just before the opening kickoff, the floodgates were opened from above and the rain started falling, which contributed to a sloppy field and five combined fumbles lost between the two teams. The Trojans started the first drive of the game at their own 36 yard-line, but Riverton quickly forced a three and out and Girard was forced to punt. Starting at their own 29, Riverton picked up a first down facing third and five. Riverton quarterback Dalton Weaver then connected with wideout Landon North for a 57 yard touchdown to take a 6-0 lead with 6:53 left in the first quarter.
Another Trojan three and out gave the ball back to Riverton, but on Riverton’s first play of the ensuing drive, a quarterback-fullback exchange was fumbled and the Trojans took over near midfield. On first down, Tucker Johnston ran for 12 yards before Trey Eaton took a third and six carry to the Riverton 29 yard-line. On fourth down, Johnston chose to keep the ball on an option and took it 14 yards to the Riverton nine. The Trojans ended the first quarter with a third and goal opportunity from Riverton’s eleven, but lightning delayed the game for 30 minutes.
The second quarter started with a Juan Ortiz field goal to make it a 6-3 game. Girard forced a Riverton three and out on the next series, but a muffed punt gave the ball back to the Rams at the Girard eleven yard-line. On the Rams’ first play of their potential scoring drive, Hunter Parker forced a Riverton fumbled and Kross Hamblin fell on the ball at Riverton’s 23 yard-line. Girard and Riverton then traded punts, and Riverton took their 6-3 lead into halftime.
Riverton received the ball to start the second half and drove 64 yards over a 8:45 drive of 14 plays before Weaver took a quarterback sneak into the endzone from one yard out. A successful two-point conversion gave the Rams a 14-3 lead. On Girard’s ensuing drive, Johnston hit Parker in stride for a nine-yard completion before Eaton rushed for 16 yards nearing midfield. A fumble would turn the ball over to Riverton, but the Trojans would force a punt and regain possession to end the third quarter. After a Trojan punt, Riverton would fumble to give Girard the ball 23 yards away from the endzone. Eaton found paydirt on first down from 23 yards out to cut the lead to 14-9 with 8:52 left in the game.
The Rams would drive 75 yards before Weaver would take yet another quarterback sneak in after his third try from the one-yard line to give Riverton a 21-9 lead. Needing to score two touchdowns in 3:01, the Trojans’ hopes would end as Johnston would be sacked on fourth down and the Rams were able to run the clock out. Eaton led Girard with 83 yards rushing while averaging nearly seven yards per carry, while Johnston rushed for 48 yards and threw for another 60. Overall the Trojans gained 206 yards on offense, while Riverton rushed for 111 and threw for 169 for a total of 280 yards.
Girard will look to avenge a 15-27 loss next week when they travel to Galena. The Bulldogs opened their season with a 16-12 loss to Colgan on Thursday.