They were willing to give up some yards to anybody else and take their chances.
Garwo, a Boston College recruit who came into this game with more than 2,000 yards, finished with 10 carries for 3 yards and did nothing to impact the outcome of this game.
Final score: Middletown 21, Conwell-Egan 14.
But this wasn’t a clean effort by any means for the Blue Raiders, who turned it over twice, had a bad snap in their own territory on a punt and rang up 11 penalties.
But that defense of Middletown’s was good enough to win this game.
Time to hand out some grades.
Quarterback:Senior Alex Goldsby handled the chaos of a state quarterfinal game much better than he did a year ago against the Blue Raiders. He was 8-of-18 for 123 yards through the air and rushed for another 47 yards. I’m not sure what happened on that last snap. He seemed confused where the ball was going. It ended up being snapped to the running back and nobody was ready for it. He gave his team a chance to win. Grade: B+
Running Back:The Eagles ended up using stud running back Patrick Garwo, a Boston College recruit, as a decoy. I don’t care if they stop him 20 times, you give this guy at least 20 carries. In the first half, Garwo had nine carries for minus-1 yard. He had only one carry in the second half. That makes no sense. I know the Blue Raiders were keyed up to stop him, and they did. Sophomore Dajuan Harris is going to be something special. He totaled 175 yards on 13 carries with a couple scores. Still, you have to ride your 2,000-yard back more than 10 carries. Grade: B-
A fumbled snap on a Blue Raider punt attempt gave Conwell-Egan the ball on the Middletown 33 yard line. Dajuan Harris took it to paydirt from the 21-yards out to cut the Middletown lead to 21-14 with 6:57 left. pic.twitter.com/NNzVBnC2Ff— 4th Down Magazine (@4thDownMag) November 24, 2018
Wide Receivers:Senior Sean Stokes had a nice 27-yard catch in the first half then never saw the ball again. He needed to get the ball more. TE Sam Schurr is a weapon. Grade: C+
Offensive Line:In those big moments when it really mattered, they came up short. Middletown forced the Eagles to turn it over six times on downs. At times the pass blocking was better than the run blocking. Middletown plays a numbers game, but this was overwhelming on occasion for the Eagles’ OL. The off-tackle blocking was outstanding, though. Sweeps and option plays were nightmares all game. Grade: C+
Defensive Line:Early on, this group was shredded by the Blue Raiders’ run game for nearly 200 first-half yards and a couple touchdowns. They did get a lot stronger as the game went along. Very physical at the point of attack, and that served them well the second half. Grade: B
Linebackers:They were fast, aggressive and physical. But I did see way too many open-field whiffs when it came to making solid tackles in space. That was a key to Middletown getting up 21-7. Grade: C+
Secondary:Pass coverage was very good all game, and they did get an interception late that gave the offense another chance. Again, the missed tackles in the open field did them in at times. Grade: B-
Special Teams:The Eagles’ kicking game was rock-solid and a shining star on this night. Angle kickoffs were very good, and the punts were high, deep and had no chance of being returned. Punt coverage was outstanding, and the Eagles totaled nearly 100 yards in the return game. Grade: A-
MIDDLETOWN BLUE RAIDERS
Quarterback:Rough night for Scott Ash, who had troubles with snaps all game and made a couple really bad throws, including one that was intercepted. He did read the pressure the Eagles brought pretty well, though. That exchange near the goal line was a mix-up, but I’m not sure it was his fault entirely. Only threw for 45 yards. His best throws were over the middle. Grade: C+
Running Back:Without Jose Lopez running like a beast, Middletown loses this game. He accounted for 269 of their 312 total yards and scored all three touchdowns. He ran for a career-high 264 yards and now has three straight 200-yard games in the postseason with 12 total touchdowns. Grade: A
Ok, @jose_lopezz25 is super human. This young man just torched Conwell-Egan for a 46-yard touchdown on this highlight reel scamper. If your tracking at home, Lopez is over 130 yards on the ground with 7:36 left in the half. Impressive. 14-0 Middletown over Conwell-Egan. pic.twitter.com/YdseKonOhu— 4th Down Magazine (@4thDownMag) November 24, 2018
Wide Receivers:Senior Lamar Ventura was very good and had four catches for 40 yards. Nobody else seemed very involved in the game. Run blocking on the edge was good, but the next level for this offense is more out of the passing game. Grade: B-
Offensive Line:As the game wore on they were getting all kinds of pressure up the middle on blitzes and did a pretty good job still keeping the running game moving. Not sure what was going on with all those low snaps, though. Not calling out the center by name. He knows. Not good this deep into the season. Pass blocking was shaky at times, but the run blocking created just enough creases for Jose Lopez to do three touchdowns worth of damage. Grade: B
Defensive Line:I thought Ethan Miller had his best game of the year. He was very good. That play Cole Senior made on fourth down in the first quarter was a W-O-W play. The Eagles were big up front, so it was an uphill push all game. I was impressed how they bounced off blocks and kept flying to the ball. Those inside traps to the FB should not have been that easy, though. Grade: B+
Linebackers:Gage Raudabaugh is 5-foot-6 and probably weighs about 170 pounds about now. He is one tough hombre. And he played this game with his hair on fire and made three or four huge plays on a night when the defense had to win the game. Great work by the outside ‘backers on the option game. That never worked all night. Grade: A
Secondary:If you run straight at the guys in this secondary, they are slow to react and get in position to cover properly, and that showed up at times late in this game. Gave up a few yards late, but otherwise coverage was pretty good. The pressure up front helped them, though. Two or three nice pass break-ups and run support was solid. Grade: B-
Special Teams: So the kicking game was hit by injuries, and it showed. Three punts inside the 20 is excellent. But those low snaps were a problem and ended up costing the Blue Raiders seven points. And the kick return coverage surrendered more than 100 yards and came close to giving up a big one a couple times. Grade: C