Garrettsville – What a difference a week makes. Last week the Garfield G-Men were on the brink of turning in their jerseys at the end of the regular season. Instead, the same Garfield squad donned their jersey with pride and a chip on their shoulder. In what one coach described as “Their best effort ever!” When asked to clarify, “ever”, emphatically, he responded, “EVER!”

The G-Men offense and defense showed heart, grit, toughness and, most importantly, pride when they arrived at South Range Memorial Field last Saturday.

After a scoreless opening quarter, the Raiders punched it in from a yard out on a fourth and goal in the first minute and 17 seconds of the second quarter to take an early 7-0 lead. After a stalled Garfield drive, the Raiders were on the march again and on a third and one from the Garfield 31 a South Range pass was intercepted by Seth Morgan. The pick six covered 73 yards and, more importantly, tied it up at seven/seven going into halftime.

The G-Men kicked off to start the second half and held South Range. Garfield’s first possession of the second half culminated in a punishing Kyle Borrelli first down, 10-yard run off left tackle to take a 14-7 lead. South Range would answer, and with 2:35 remaining in the third quarter; in third and goal South Range punched it in from the one to tie it up at 14.

That score would open a Pandora’s box of scoring because over the span of 1:14 of game time there would be three touchdowns scored. Following the one yard plunge by South Range, Garfield’s Morgan took the chest high kickoff at the 10, dropped it and picked it up at the 12, ran up the middle until he was first touched at the 30 yard line when he veered to the left and was never touched again except by his teammates congratulating him on his 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, giving the G-Men a 20-14 lead. The lead would be short lived, 33 seconds later South Range scored from 35 yards out on a run up the middle and South Range took a 21-20 lead. Garfield promptly drove down the field and answered. The big play was Dalton Michael on a first and 10 from their own 27, racing up the middle and then down the left side all the way to the one yard line. On the very next play Michael was rewarded with a one-yard TD run up the middle and the two-point conversion by Borrelli made it 28-21 with 1:21 remaining in the third quarter. The fourth quarter was dominated by defense and bending but not breaking. With just under six minutes in the contest, Garfield’s Zach Gorby booted a 22-yard field goal to to make it 31-21. That would be the final score  and the first Garfield playoff win ever.

Garfield clearly stuck to their game plan. For a team that averaged 22.7 pass attempts per game throughout the season, last Saturday the Garfield signal caller, Dalton Fall, attempted a mere eight passes.

Garfield outgained the Raider 370-320 on 20 fewer plays. Garfield rushed the ball 35 of their 43 plays to the tune of 340 yards. Leading the ground attack were Dalton Michael’s 161 yards in 11 carries, Kyle Borrelli had 20 touches for 99 yards while Anthony DeNigris  picked up 80 yards on three carries.

Next up for Garfield are the LaBrae Vikings, Saturday at 7pm at Niles McKinley High School.