TOWNER - The TGU high school football team did to visiting Shiloh Christian what it has done to every high-powered offense it has faced this season - completely overwhelm it.
Titans sophomore quarterback Eli Luna anchored 27 unanswered points and the TGU defense shut out the Skyhawks in the second half to advance to the second round of the 9-man playoffs with a 34-6 victory Saturday.
TGU's large defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and held Shiloh's offense - averaging 41.8 points per game - to one score, a 3-yard touchdown run by junior James Inman with 5:30 remaining in the second quarter.
TGU sophomore quarterback Eli Luna looks for an open receiver during Saturday’s 9-man playoff game against Shiloh Christian.
"We had to shut their offense down in order to play our game so that's what we did," junior defensive lineman Luke Bacon said.
After a slow start by the TGU offense, The Titans' defense established momentum with a goal-line stand early in the game.
The Titans broke a scoreless tie when on the first play of the second quarter Luna hit sophomore tight end Hunter Schell for a 15-yard touchdown.
After Inman's touchdown, Luna found senior running back Ridge Bachmeier for a 3-yard score.
The second half was all about the TGU defense, namely the defensive line. The Titans linemen had a clear size advantage on Shiloh's offensive line. Seniors Tyler Mongeon (6-foot-2, 240 pounds) and Reed Hermanson (6-foot-4, 230 pounds), Bacon (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) and sophomore Bryce Green (6-foot-1, 220 pounds) made life difficult for Shiloh running back Blake Emmel in the second half.
"They have a good ball club and they run an offense that's very challenging to defend," TGU coach Scott Thorson said. "It puts a lot of pressure on our defense. Our defensive linemen played really well. Once we stopped them from running it, it took away the play-action."
Emmel finished with 81 yards on 20 carries, but managed just 13 yards on nine carries in the second half. Emmel's longest run of the second half was seven yards after rushes of 20, 19 and 10 in the first half.
While TGU kept Shiloh's offense out of the end zone in the second half, the Skyhawks couldn't stop Luna and the Titans' offense. A 13-yard touchdown run by junior running back Kendal Green and a 6-yard scoring run by Luna in the third quarter broke the game open.
With Shiloh looking at its final 12 minutes of the season, the Skyhawks abandoned their running game and turned to senior quarterback Taylor Crothers. That didn't work, either, as Crothers was constantly pressured by the TGU defensive line.
"I think every team that we play knows we're a run-first team," Shiloh coach Funnon Barker said. "If we get behind, especially by a couple of scores, where we're forced to throw the ball, that's really out of our comfort zone."
Crothers finished 7-of-21 passing for 92 yards.
A 62-yard punt return for a touchdown by Luna 25 seconds into the fourth quarter ended Shiloh's comeback hopes.
Luna rushed for 156 yards on 17 carries and completed 6-of-10 passes for 60 yards.
"We've had a pretty good season so far," Luna said. "But we haven't accomplished anything yet."
TGU hosts Surrey on Saturday.