A turnover-hungry Northmor defense set the tone at Cardington Friday night.
The Pirates opened the game with the ball and drove from their 36 into the Golden Knight red zone. However, a Journey Williamson pass was picked off by Paul Cramer on the 12th play of the drive, giving the ball to Northmor on their 36 after a nice return — putting an end to a drive that lasted for nearly six minutes.
That miscue snowballed for the Pirates, who would turn the ball over five more times in the opening two quarters.
“That’s the story of the night, isn’t it?” said Cardington coach Ryan Goetzman. “They’re a good football team. You can’t turn the ball over five times and expect to beat them. You can’t turn the ball over five times and expect to be in a game with them.”
After that first miscue, Northmor (3-1, 1-0) was able to drive inside the Cardington 10, but their drive stalled at the six and they settled for a 21-year field goal by Caleb Schnuerer to lead 3-0 with 1:12 to go in the opening period.
The second quarter would be a nightmare for the Pirates, though. Cramer recorded his second pick of the game on the first play of the period to set the Golden Knights up on the Cardington 45. After a five-yard penalty again the Pirates, Northmor quarterback A.J. Bower hit Jaxson Wenger for a 40-yard touchdown that made the score 9-0.
Golden Knight coach Scott Armrose said that after giving up 40 points in a loss to Mapleton last week, his defense simply got back to playing their game.
“It was a week we focused on us and we got back to just doing what we do,” he said. “What Mapleton does offensively is really tough to stop. We kind of overdid it a little bit; we over-coached that night. We relaxed tonight, we just played our defense. We flew around and we played very physical defense. I’m proud of these guys.”
The coach added that the physical nature of his team’s defense played a big role in forcing all those turnovers.
“You pressure the quarterback, too,” he said. “Those turnovers get forced. We were hitting receivers downfield and they don’t want to stretch out for the ball. That’s how you get turnovers — by being physical up front and that’s what we did tonight.”
While Northmor didn’t force a turnover on Cardington’s next possession, the end result was the same. After going three-and-out, an low snap on the punt attempt led to an errant kick that netted negative-one yard.
Facing a short field at the Pirate 22, a pass from Bower to Hunter Fulk put the ball just short of the end zone, setting up Cramer for a touchdown drive to put his team up 16-0.
The Golden Knights then forced and recovered a fumble to get the ball in Cardington territory again at the 33. Cramer would wind up scoring again on a four-yard win. Thanks to two more turnovers by the Pirates, Northmor got two more touchdowns in the final two minutes of the half. Bower hit Wenger for a 46-yard touchdown and then connected with Fulk on a 21-yard scoring play that sent the teams into the locker room with the visitors up 37-0.
Armrose noted that his team’s offensive balance was another positive.
“We like our balanced approach and, again, offensively we went back to just doing what we do and getting better at it,” he said. “We focused on us again this week and we like that approach going forward.”
Cardington would get on the board in the early moments of the third quarter, when the team forced a fumble that Kalin Briggs picked up and dashed 47 yards into the end zone.
However, with the game still being played under a running clock with the score 37-6, Northmor was able to eat nearly eight minutes of clock on a drive dominated by running backs Carson Campbell and Cramer. Cramer scored on an 11-yard touchdown to make it a 44-6 contest.
While Cardington threatened again on their next possession, getting the ball to the Golden Knight 10 thanks to 29 yards rushing by Wyatt Denney and a 38-yard pass from Williamson to Merek McClure, the drive would stall and Northmor would be able to run out virtually all the remaining time.
After suffering the loss, Goetzman noted that his Pirates (1-3, 0-1) need to regroup.
“We’ve got to regroup, regroup the kids, get them back involved, have a good week of practice and get them ready to go,” he said. “That was ugly, that was sloppy. When you don’t take care of the football, when that happens, you have to get back to the drawing board.”
While happy to get back on the winning track, Armrose knows his team will have some tough challenges ahead — including their upcoming game against 4-0 Danville.
“Momentum’s great, but we take each week one week at a time,” he said. “We kind of lost momentum with our loss to Mapleton and I thought our guys bounced back really well. Our approach doesn’t change, win or lose. We’re focused on next week and we’re going to get ready for the Danville Blue Devils.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS