HERRIN — The Herrin football team’s game plan heading into Friday night’s SIRR Ohio Division showdown against Harrisburg was to run the ball right at the Bulldogs.
It was a resounding success for the Tigers.
Herrin rushed for 415 yards and defeated Harrisburg, 40-21. The Tigers earned a share of the conference championship with both Harrisburg and Murphysboro.
Gavin Jordan had an enormous game for the Tigers. The Herrin senior ran for 215 yards and three touchdowns.
“We had a great week of practice, and our offensive line was amazing tonight,” Jordan said. “We really got down to business and took care of it.”
Already leading 12-7, Jordan broke several tackles on an incredible 19-yard touchdown run. The young man looked like his was running with a purpose. Gavyn Gosha rushed for 186 yards and three scores as well.
“(Gosha) was telling me in the huddle that it feels nice not to be the only one back there,” Jordan said. “I was hurt and missed a couple weeks, and he said it felt nice for me to be back and help him out.”
The game couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for Harrisburg, which lost its 1,200-yard running back Tylor Marler to an injury on the first offensive series of the game. Marler did not return to the game.
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Aaron Stephens was able to pick up the slack in Marler’s absence for a little while. Stephens ripped off an impressive 60-yard scoring run. Harrisburg took a 7-6 lead in the first quarter, but it was downhill after that for the Bulldogs (6-2, 4-1).
Harrisburg simply could not stop Herrin’s potent rushing attack. Gosha ran 26 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter, and Herrin took a 26-7 advantage into halftime.
“They kind of looked like Milner and Merrill from last year,” Herrin coach Jason Karnes said of Gosha and Jordan. “Gavin Jordan is such a hard runner and very physical, and then Gosha is so fast. It’s a great one-two punch. Blake Starkweather played very well for us at fullback, too.”
Starkweather blocked a punt in the second quarter, which gave Herrin a short field. Moments later, Jordan scored a touchdown.
Corbin Crim-Harbison caught touchdown passes of 45 and 29 yards from Noah Vallette in the second half. But the Bulldogs were in too big of a hole by that point.
Herrin improved to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play. It always seems like the Tigers are in the hunt for a conference crown, and they came through again on Friday night.
“All the credit goes to the offensive line up front because they played an excellent game, and I’m so proud of them,” Karnes said. “Harrisburg is a very good team, and I think losing their top running back might have taken the wind out of their sails. It’s very special to have a piece of the conference title.”