By Phil Keren
A balanced offensive attack and an aggressive defensive gameplan were the key ingredients in Garfield’s 52-13 victory over Normandy on Friday.
Garfield head coach Mike Moser said he felt his squad played well on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
“We were prepared to play tonight,” Moser said. “The kids came out focused, had great energy. That’s a big step for us to play a D-2 team like that, with some really good athletes. Our kids were locked in, played really well.”
The G-Men scored on all five of their first-half possessions to take a 33-6 lead at halftime.
While the offense recorded some long gains both on the ground and through the air, it was the defense that had the first big play of the game. On the opening possession of the game, Normandy quarterback Elijah Gray’s pass was intercepted by Garfield defensive back Jack Neikirk at the Garfield 35-yard line.
Four plays later, Garfield quarterback Eric Geddes faked a handoff, ran through the left side of the line and broke away from the Normandy defenders en route to a 48-yard touchdown to give his team a 6-0 lead.
After stopping Normandy on downs, Garfield mounted a six-play, 64-yard drive culminating in an 18-yard touchdown run from running back Keegan Sell to take a 13-0 lead with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. That drive included runs from Sell and Geddes, as well as a 13-yard screen pass from Geddes to running back Deacon Sommer. Normandy’s defense committed two offsides penalties to help advance the football for the G-Men. On his scoring run, Sell broke some tackles as he powered his way into the end zone.
Moser praised the play of Geddes, who completed 7-of-8 passing attempts for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Geddes also rushed for 139 yard on 10 carries, and two more scores.
“He’s playing great this year,” Moser said. “He runs the ball, he throws the ball. He’s a leader for us, he’s making great decisions. He’s doing everything we ask him to do.”
When the G-Men defense recorded a three-and-out, Garfield continued playing complimentary football by stringing together a third straight scoring drive to take a 19-0 lead early in the second quarter. This six-play, 75-yard drive included two big plays: a 36-yard run by Sommer and a 21-yard pass from Geddes to Brandyn Bogucki. Sell scored again, this time from two yards out.
After coming up empty in its first three possessions, Normandy responded with a scoring drive of its own. Gray connected with receiver Austin Stash on a 40-yard passing play. Gray then either ran or threw the ball on seven of the next plays as he methodically led his team to their first touchdown of the game. The longest play in this sequence was a 13-yard scramble by Gray, who also finished the drive with a 2-yard scoring run at 6:49 of the second quarter.
After that, it was Geddes’ turn to show what he could do with his arm. The G-Men started its next drive with five straight running plays, including a 9-yard run from Sommer, a pair of 4-yard rushes by Sell and a 4-yard run from Geddes. Geddes then tossed a pass down the sideline to Sommer, who caught it in stride and raced into the end zone untouched for a 42-yard touchdown. This exclamation point play gave the G-Men a 26-6 advantage at 4:09 of the second quarter.
On the G-Men’s next possession, Geddes threw another long pass along the sideline, but this time the recipient was Sell, who outfought a defender to haul it in for a 40-yard gain. Geddes then threaded the needle to Christian Gallagher for a 14-yard pickup. Facing a first down and goal from the Normandy 7-yard line, Geddes rolled out to his left, then turned back to his right, and threw the ball against the grain to Leo Grandizio, who caught it at the 2 and trotted into the end zone. That score gave Garfield a 33-6 advantage at half.
Moser noted his team’s strong running game in the first quarter helped open up the passing plays in the second quarter.
“Eric made some big throws,” Moser said. “The play-action game was good, but that doesn’t work if you’re not running the ball. The kids executed [and] did everything well.”
Moser praised his defensive coordinator, Jarrod Lewis, for crafting a solid game plan to contain Normandy quarterback Elijah Gray.
“He had the guys in position,” Moser said. “We knew that kid was going to make plays with his feet. He’s a real problem, but I thought we did a good job of setting the fence and running him down and kind of wearing him down as the game went on.”
Gray finished the game with 136 yards rushing on 17 carries, and two touchdowns. He also completed 5-of-12 passes for 60 yards.