In its first-ever playoff appearance, Cardington’s football team earned its first-ever playoff win at the expense of Fisher Catholic in a wild Friday night game hosted by the Pirates.
Neither team was shy about putting points on the board, but Cardington tallied a few more touchdowns in claiming a 68-43 decision and make history in the Division VII first-round contest.
“It’s unbelievable,” said head coach Tod Brininger after his team finished off the Irish. “We want to continue on. That proves we belong in the playoffs. I’m so proud, it’s unbelievable.”
Cardington dominated the early stages of the game. After receiving the opening kickoff, they drove 59 yards in four plays on a drive that concluded with Nate Hickman connecting with Trey Brininger for a 21-yard touchdown. Hickman ran in the ball for a two-point conversion to give his team an 8-0 lead less than two minutes into the contest.
After forcing a FC punt, the Pirates then drove 92 yards in nine plays. A 66-yard pass from Hickman to Joe Denney was a key play on a drive that ended with a five-yard rushing score by Ayden Plowman.
The Pirates then recovered an onside kick and moved the ball to the FC 10 before turning it over on downs. That was just a temporary setback, as the team immediately forced and recovered a fumble. Hickman ran the ball in for a three-yard touchdown and Brininger completed a two-point pass to Zach Lester to make it 22-0 at the 11:55 mark of the second quarter.
That period ended with a total of 57 points scored, 36 by Cardington. Hickman completed scoring passes of nine yards to Brininger and 34 yards to Ashton Plowman. Ashton Plowman also had a 54-yard touchdown run and Ayden Plowman added a scoring run of 10 yards. Hickman also ran for a two-point conversion and completed a pass to Lester for another.
However, Fisher added three touchdowns on runs by Colton Yeager, Jack Tencza and Alex Smith to stay within a 50-21 margin going into the half. Tod Brininger said that stopping Tencza, who finished with 176 rushing yards, proved to be a tough task for his team.
“We couldn’t stop #22, but they couldn’t stop our offense,” he said. “They would not be denied.”
After forcing the Irish to turn the ball over on downs on their first possession fo the third quarter, Cardington got a 19-yard run by Brininger and a 10-yard pass from Hickman to Ashton Plowman to set up a one-yard dive by Hickman to make it 56-21 and start a running clock.
That wouldn’t be the end of the offensive fireworks, though. Before the third quarter had ended, Cardington had scored again on a 22-yard run by Ayden Plowman that saw him plow over an attempted tackler. Fisher added a touchdown at the end of the quarter, but the Pirates held a commanding 62-29 lead entering the final period.
Hickman would make it 68-29 with a 22-yard scoring run midway through the fourth. Fisher Catholic would tally a pair of touchdowns over those final minutes, but the final score still wound up in Cardington’s favor by a 25-point margin.
Hickman completed 17 passes for 263 yards in the game, with Brininger catching seven for 92 yards and Ashton Plowman adding five catches for 88. On the ground, Ayden Plowman ran for 95, Brininger added 62 and Ashton Plowman added 61. Overall, Cardington tallied 506 yards in the contest.
Next up for Cardington is a road trip to Danville. The two teams played at Cardington in the regular season, with the Blue Devils winning by a 30-22 margin in a game where the Pirates had 125 yards in penalties and suffered a 3-0 deficit in the turnover game. Coach Brininger noted that his team has been working to correct those mistakes since that loss.
“I think we’ve been shoring it up for some time,” he said. “We didn’t have a ton of penalties tonight. We know what they’re going to do and they know what we’re going to do.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS