09/20/09 — Midway deals Princeton first loss of season

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Midway deals Princeton first loss of season

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 20, 2009 2:00 AM

PRINCETON -- Avoid the Chinese fire drill.

While viewing tape of Princeton quarterback David Gurganus, the state's top passer, Midway coach Paul Hall noticed that the 5-foot-8 signal caller had plenty of time to sit in the pocket and pick apart opposing defenses all over the field.

So, Hall decided to man-up athlete on athlete against the Dawgs.

"There are five guys on the field who can run the football and when they throw those quick (passes), that's like long hand-offs," said Hall. "We just worked on it over and over, and prayed. You have to find athletes to go against them and maybe a sixth, and hope that you can stay with them."

The Raiders did.

Midway chased Gurganus from his comfort zone, held him to a season-low 200 yards passing and claimed a 21-12, non-conference victory at the Fred Bartholomew Athletic Complex. The Raiders (3-1 overall) handed the Dawgs their first loss of the season before 1,100-plus fans.

"We had plenty of chances and didn't get it done, which is the bottom line," said Princeton coach Russell Williamson. "You have to credit Midway for that because we had a hard time tonight with them on offense."

The Dawgs' offensive line struggled with its first-half blocking and slightly improved in the second half. Midway constantly rushed its corners and flushed Gurganus from the pocket, which led to hurried passes.

Gurganus finished with a season-low 200 yards on 17 of 30 attempts, and one touchdown -- a 51-yard scoring strike to Benton Myers.

Princeton converted just one of four second-half possessions inside the red zone. Gurganus' 9-yard scamper up the middle trimmed the Raiders' deficit to 21-12 early in the fourth quarter.

"Pressure really was the key ... had to tackle and hem them up," said Hall. "(On tape) he stood back in there and had a lot of time throw ... five or six seconds and we can't run with someone for that long. We couldn't have people running all over the field like a Chinese fire drill."

The Raiders controlled the tempo with its ball-possession offense in the opening half. The senior backfield tandem of Joseph Royal (159 yards rushing) and Reggie Proctor (60 yards) grinded out yardage behind an offensive line that dominated the line of scrimmage.

Midway ran 40 offensive plays compared to Princeton's 22 and owned a four-minute advantage in time of possession.

"That's all you can do with them because they're good on offense," said Hall. "I told the guys we had to limit their number of drives."

The Raiders grabbed a 14-6 lead on Chris Smith's 37-yard scoring run and Royal's 14-yard run. Midway converted its first possession of the opening half and Princeton's defense, led by Kristian Cox's 16-tackle effort, pitched a shutout the rest of the way.