GALION — River Valley wasted no time warming up on a chilly homecoming night at Unckrich Stadium in Heise Park Friday night.
Bailey Cole took the opening kickoff 55 yards to the Galion 45-yard-line. Carson Parsell capped off the 10-play drive with a 4-yard run off right tackle to give the visitors a 6-0 advantage. Harville hit Cole for 13 yards and Dominic Ross for 12 more on fourth down during the drive. But the game wouldn’t continue that way for RV.
The Vikings (5-2, 3-1) and Tigers (5-2, 2-2) hooked up in a battle, with Galion winning the second half and the game, 38-21. The win avenges a 21-17 loss last year.
RV coach Doug Green said the game turned on the lines.
“They came out in the second half and ran the ball on us, and we weren’t able to run the ball. We couldn’t flip the field and weren’t able to convert when we had to.”
Galion answered back on its initial possession, with Jacob Fryer adding a 4-yard run of his own; Conner Moreton, one of the area’s most accurate kickers, hit the point after for a 7-6 Galion lead.
Harville, with one tick left in the first quarter, kept the ball around left end for 11 yards and a touchdown. His pass to Ross made it 14-7.
On the ensuing kickoff Galion fumbled the ball away and Sam Troutman scooped it up and returned it to the Tigers’ 41. One play later RV struck again, as Harville found Parsell open for a 41-yard score. Cole’s kick put RV ahead 21-7.
Galion held off another Viking threat, stopping RV thanks to two penalties. Fryer caught a 14-yard toss from Cooke to make it a one-score game at halftime.
Galion head coach Chris Hawkins likened the game to a prize fight.
“You’re talking about two heavyweights going at each other. In the first half they knocked us to the canvas. They even bloodied our mouth,” he said.
The third quarter was all Galion, with a heavy dose of Drake Barnett.
After a 57-yard pass to Fryer, Barnett scored the tying TD. And he wasn’t finished.
He added scoring runs of 13 and 3 yards as the Tigers took a 35-21 lead after three quarters. On the night he rushed for 121 yards on 27 carries.
Moreton nailed a 31-yard field goal in the fourth.
“They had us 21-7 and we thought we were dead, but our defense made a play and made it 21-14,” Hawkins said,
“That’s one of the best halves of football I’ve ever been involved in.”
Parsell had 69 yards receiving on three catches and added 28 yards on four carries.
“The first half we did pretty much what we wanted to; we ran the ball a little bit,” Green said.
“We have to play an entire game and we didn’t do that tonight.”
River Valley hosts Buckeye Valley Friday night while Galion visits Fairbanks.