Trojans knock off Panthers in season opener

By: Aaron Pyle

         Thursday, Sept. 3, the Girard Trojans traveled to Hutchinson Field to square off against CNC rival the St. Mary’s-Colgan Panthers. The two teams met Sept. 29, 2017, in their most recent matchup where the Panthers prevailed 28-12.  

         Opening the game, the Panthers came out firing as Colgan would score on the team’s second possession of the game where St. Mary’s returned a punt to the house for 55 yards. Trojan senior Dee Wideman blocked the field goal attempt as the Panthers went up 6-0 early.

         Before the final two minutes of the first quarter, the Panthers struck again running the ball down the sideline for 32-yards as the Trojans struggled early on to contain the rushing attack of the Colgan. The Panthers missed the extra-point attempt as they led 12-0 after one quarter.

         Offenses were held to a minimum early in the second quarter until the Trojans answered back with a 65-yard touchdown run up the middle from senior Connor Olivera. Sophomore Garrett Humble nailed the extra-point attempt as Girard narrowed the gap, 12-7 midway through the second.

         The Trojans would get the ball back with 2:30 remaining where the Panthers struggled to keep up with the relentless option attack of the Trojans. Senior Zac Davis set the Trojans up in great field positioning bringing the ball from their own 15 to the Panthers 41-yard line. Driving down the field, the Trojans reached the red-zone with under a minute remaining. From there the Trojans punched it up the middle leading to senior Caden Lallemand running the ball in the end zone for a one-yard touchdown to take the lead. Humble added to the lead nailing the extra point attempt.

         Scoring 14 unanswered points in the second quarter, the Trojans led 14-12 at halftime.

         The third quarter became a defensive stalemate as neither team could find a rhythm offensively. Colgan would run in a 39-yard touchdown with three minutes remaining but had the ball taken back from a false start penalty.

         In the fourth, the Trojans struck early as Lallemand connected with Olivera once again for a 28-yard touchdown pass to push the lead even further. Injuries and penalties plagued the Panthers as the offense became stale in the second half while the defense for Girard stepped it up a notch.

         Sophomore Luke Niggeman came in the clutch for the Trojans with just under four minutes remaining sending a Girard punt all the way to the Colgan one-yard line. This would set up the Panthers for one last final drive down the field to possibly tie the game back up.

         A pass inference call would put a damper on the Trojans’ efforts putting the ball at the Colgan 40. Soon following the call, the Panthers would then be called for an intentional grounding pushing the Panthers back. The Trojan defense remained solid forcing a turnover on downs that sealed the victory.

         Girard captured the 20-12 victory over the Panthers grabbing the first win of the season.

         “We feel like we condition and we practice at a pretty good rate,” said Coach Neal Philpot. “We feel like we can trust our conditioning and we kept leaning on both sides of the ball that we would come out where we did. You have to play it 47 minutes and 57 seconds to win the ballgame. It’s a tribute to our guys to hanging in there and keep battling.”

         The Trojans (1-0) next contest is set for a CNC-home matchup against Baxter Springs Friday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m.