Editor's Note: This article was written and submitted by Ed Rotundo.
In a year that was once thought of as a rebuilding season, Garden City coach Tom Flatley appears to have his Trojans poised to make a run into the playoffs as they moved their record to 4-0.
On an overcast Saturday afternoon that had some rain drops mixed in, Garden City took advantage of three interceptions to beat Mepham on their home field 21-7.
Mepham came into the game off a tough loss to Wantagh and had their sights set on this matchup with Garden City. The Pirates were fired up early and their defense stopped GC cold on their first two possessions but were unable themselves to move the chains.
The first quarter became a battle of field position and Mepham was winning the early battle with their defensive line holding strong. Late in the first quarter Mepham forced Garden City to punt from deep in their own end and took over inside the 40 yard line and began to move the ball through the air. With less than a minute left in the quarter, quarterback Tyler Davis hit Yianni Hilas for a touchdown to put the Pirates on top 7-0.
The second quarter continued to be a fight for field position with both defenses playing to their strengths. With under four minutes remaining in the half Garden City began to march. After getting the ball deep in their territory the Trojans pieced together a couple of good runs by Brett Stewart for a first down.
Then it was perhaps the turning point of the game as Stewart looked out into the right flat and hit Ed Blatz on a quick turn in. Blatz took the pass and beat his man off the ball and found an opening through the defense for a gain of 41 yards to move inside the 20. On the next play Stewart hit Justin Guterding with a quick out and Guterding took the ball to the one yard line. With time running down Stewart stayed in shotgun formation, took a quick look to his right to freeze the defense and then took off for the left corner of the end zone for the tying touchdown.
The third quarter began with Mepham receiving the ball but unable to move it against a stout Trojan defense as Davis was hit behind the line several times and tailback Ian Avanzato couldn’t find any running room. But likewise it was the Pirate defense stuffing the run and putting pressure on Stewart when he dropped back to pass.
Similar to the first quarter the Trojans began moving the ball late in the period as Stewart began making connections with his talented wide outs. And with only 14 seconds left in the third quarter Stewart found Guterding across the middle and he bulled his way through the secondary for a 15 yard touchdown. With Gerrard Smith’s PAT Garden City would go into the final quarter with a 14-7 lead.
On the ensuing possession Mepham tried to hit the quick strike as Davis fired a pass to Hilas down field but the ball landed just out of his reach. And after a 15 yard dead ball penalty on GC, Davis tried again. This time the Trojans had Hilas double teamed and Blatz was able to extend, reach up high and grab the deep pass for his fourth interception of the year.
Garden City was fired up by the turnover and on the other side of the ball it appeared Mepham was a little deflated. And as Stewart dropped back to pass he felt pressure up the middle and he took off. As he broke through the line all he had was one man to beat in the secondary and then it was a footrace. As he crossed the goal line after the 67 yard run a jubilant Stewart was mobbed by his teammates. With the way the defense was playing the 21-7 lead was too much to overcome.
On Mepham’s next possession the defense sacked Davis and then Blatz picked off another pass and all that was left was to run out the clock. On the day the running games of both teams were held in check as Mepham could only pick up 48 yards on the ground while GC gained just 81 (67 on one carry). And it was GC’s pass defense, especially in the second half, that didn’t give Mepham the opening to get into the game with three key interceptions. PassingGarden City
Brett Stewart (QB) 18/28 for 184 yards, 1 TDs, 1 IntMepham
Tyler Davis 14/26 for 111 yards, 1 TDs, 3 IntReceivingGarden City
Brian Badgett 4 receptions for 35 yards
Ed Blatz 2 receptions for 55 yards
Scott D'Antonio 1 receptions for 4 yards
Justin Guterding 9 receptions for 94 yards Mepham
Yianni Hilas 7 receptions for 80 yards, 1 TDs RushingGarden City
Brett Stewart (QB) 15 attempts for 81 yards, 2 TDs Mepham
Ian Avanzato 16 attempts for 48 yards, 0 TDs KickingGarden City
Gerrard Smith , FGs: 0/0, PAT: 3/3 Mepham
Kevin Cabrera , FGs: 0/0, PAT: 1/1DefenseGarden City
Ed Blatz 2 interceptions
Tim McDonagh 1 interceptions Mepham
Tyler Clougher 1 interceptions
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