GALION -- In a battle of undefeated teams, Marion Pleasant came at Galion with blow after blow, until the Spartans were the only ones standing in a 44-21 victory.
Arguably the most important game of Matt Dick's season started exactly as he'd hoped. His team came out to compete and didn't give up, he said.
"I hoped for it. This is Pleasant football," Galion coach Matt Dick said. "We saw for a half, we could compete for it. I think our kids got tired. I think we didn't rest our guys as much as we should have."
Galion, who allowed Marion Pleasant to score on the third play of the game, could never quite catch up to the Spartan offense.
"Our kids did a great job answering the bell," Marion Pleasant coach Aaron Cook said. "Coming out and fighting for four quarters, this is the first game we've had to fight for four quarters all year. I was really proud of them."
To open the scoring, Pleasant's quarterback Ethan Warner rushed for a 1-yard score. The two-point conversion made it 8-0.
Galion repelled the Spartans' next drive by recovering a fumble at its own 27. Shortly thereafter, Tiger quarterback Elias Middleton scored on a 74-yard quarterback draw to pull his team within 8-7.
They would get no closer.
It was all Pleasant for the remainder of the half as they finished the first two periods, 16-7.
"Some of the things they were doing (defensively) was leaving stuff open for us," Cook said. "Our kids did a great job of executing."
Pleasant ended the half with 226 total yards.
The Spartans' Avewry Wolfe scored to open the second half, following a wacky play in which both teams juggled the ball for about 50 yards.
But Galion answered with its own TD. Middleton tossed a floater to Isaiah Alsip, to bring the deficit to within 24-14.
Warner threw a pass to a wide open Zane Dine in the end zone for one touchdown and later, junior Patrick Blubaugh raced 74 yards for another Spartan score.
In the fourth period, the Tigers tried to scratch their way back, scoring another Middleton passing TD, this time to Gage Lackey for 23 yards.
Dick said the second half effort proved his team was good enough to compete.
"I think we're a really good football team and I think we should own that," Dick said. "I think it's a culture change. Getting used to how we do that. It is growing."