Garfield passing leads to victory
GARRETTSVILLE — Carl Pelini had some trepidation prior to Saturday’s game at Garfield. The G-Men football team has a penchant for running the football. Their formations and movements are done with military-like precision as defenses try to adjust.
Pelini, the Cardinal Mooney High School football coach, knew of Garfield’s run game, but it was the play-action pass that gave him pause.
Saturday, during a Division V, Region 17 second-round game, the Cardinals saw the other facet of the G-Men in a 24-21 Garfield victory.
The combination of Garfield’s dual-threat quarterback Brody Swigowski and Joe Perrine combined for three catches for 152 yards. The last of the three to Perrine was a 26-yard TD run with 26 seconds left in the third quarter — putting Garfield up 24-14. It proved to be the game-winner.
“I was most worried about the play-action passing,” said Pelini, whose team is 2-6. “That’s how they get you. It bit us three times tonight. You go into a game like this, and I said it (Friday night), that was my biggest fear coming in. They essentially don’t play with a quarterback, so you’ve got to involve all 11 guys in defending the run. You have to be extremely disciplined not to take your eyes off your keys. When you don’t, you give up some plays.
“They had enough big plays in the passing game. That was the difference in the football game.”
Swigowski was 7-of-14 for 194 yards. He trusts the play-action pass.
At halftime, Garfield (7-0) had 114 yards rushing and 161 passing as the G-Men held a 17-7 lead. Garfield had 38 carries for 127 yards.
“We run the ball a lot,” Swigowski said. “They’re ready for the run, ready for the run. When we come out and throw they’re just not ready. Our receivers have to be the fastest in the (Portage Trail Conference). I trust them. It works.”
Mooney’s run game was predicated on Zy’ere Rogers, who had 32 carries for 329 yards and all three of Mooney’s touchdowns.
Garfield coach Mike Moser said the 5-foot-9, 175-pound junior running back was tough to take down.
“That was a real challenge, first of all getting past that offensive line, and second tackling that kid,” Moser said. “He’s a special player. We had him hit for 2 and 3 yard gains that he turned into 6, 7 and 8 yard gains with just great running.”
The Cardinals’ trademark has been a stout offensive line, producing some great rushers over the years. Rogers is no exception.
He is over 1,100 yards this season.
“Our o-line played fantastic,” Pelini said. “Zy’ere is a great runner and had a great game, but you don’t run for 300 yards unless your offensive line is playing great.”
Mooney had a chance to come back in the second half, down 24-21.
Senior quarterback Pat Guerrieri, who was 5-of-8 in the second half for 47 yards, started to drive the Cardinals. However, a pass to the Garfield 20 on fourth-and-18 fell short with 30 seconds remaining, ending Mooney’s season.
Pelini is in his first season with Mooney, but knows the culture needs to change to get back to where it was in the early 2000s. Cardinal Mooney has won eight state championships in school history.
“That’s what we’ve tried to do all year,” Pelini said. “I appreciate the seniors, the way they’ve hung in there and allowed us to develop our program and build that foundation. I’m appreciative of them. I hope in coming years when this team gets back to where they should be they take some satisfaction. They should.”
Garfield, who ironically lost to Cardinal Mooney in a Division IV playoff game in 2004, is heading on in the Division V, Region 17 playoffs — hosting Crestview next week.
The G-Men beat a traditionally sound team like Mooney Saturday, but knows next weekend’s game could go another way — even with a play-action pass.
“This time of the year one bad night puts you out,” Moser said. “We’ll enjoy this one tonight and get back to it (today) and start worrying about next week.”