Sometimes sticking to a game plan no matter the circumstances will come to the aid of a championship team and Southern Columbia’s backfield witnessed that first-hand versus Wilmington on Friday in the PIAA Class 2A title game in Hershey.
The Tigers had 96 yards on 20 carries in the first half, but once halftime was over they kicked into another gear, with Gaige and Gavin Garcia lighting up the scoreboard.
Gaige Garcia had 49 yards in the first half and produced two first downs, one of them a 5-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He also caught a 32-yard pass for a score with a second left in the second quarter.
After not being involved much in the first half Gavin Garcia burst onto the championship scene with seven carries for over 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The freshman tacked on a 38 and 33-yard run in the second half versus a Wilmington defense that was on the field more often.
The elder Garcia dashed for four first downs in the final half and scored from 18 and 26-yards out. He also scored on a 37-yard catch and run versus the Greyhounds defense.
Southern’s running game went from a normal attack to one that looked comic-book like as it had more yards in the game (296) than Wilmington’s entire offense did (260).
“At times they started overplaying the run. So, we had to do some things to open it up. It’s a guessing game, they were guessing on certain plays and certain formations,” Roth said about the Greyhounds. “But as far as the second half goes, it wasn’t a lot of adjustments for our scheme it was guys coming out and executing on both sides of the ball.”
With Gaige Garcia making plays between the tackles, running hard along the sidelines and shedding tacklers left and right, it is hard to imagine the Tigers not creating enough pressure on an opponent.
Roth has seen Garcia continue to put his nose to the grind stone on a yearly basis and it has paid huge dividends.
“We just executed better and he’s just a workhorse. He stays strong and gets stronger as the game goes on. And over the years when it’s tough early in the game, he eventually does this thing where as the defense maybe gets tired, he never seems to slow down. If anything he goes just as hard if not harder in the fourth quarter than he did in the first,” Roth explained about his junior running back who had a 134-yard performance on the ground.
Garcia praised the Wilmington defense after the win.
“We just had to play our football. They were one of the toughest if not the toughest defense we played all season. I had to break tackles in order to get two or three yards,” Garcia said.