By ROB HAMILTON
Cardington’s defense paved the way to a 36-0 victory over South Central on a rainy Friday night.
The Pirates scored one touchdown on defense, had another set up by an interception that gave them the ball on the Trojan three-yard line and simply prevented their opponents from ever manufacturing a threat in the contest.
“They threw a lot of different looks at us, but these guys responded and played good football,” said Cardington coach Jerry Williams. “When you have games in weather like this, they’re won in the trenches. Our defensive line did a good job — it’s nice to know we won the trenches this week.”
Early in the game offensively, it was the passing game that got things started for the Pirates, as they got on the board on their first possession thanks to a 48-yard scoring pass from Luke McCarrell to Devin Pearl. Branden Steckel added the extra point to make the score 7-0 with 9:12 remaining in the opening period.
Turnovers would become an issue for the Pirates, keeping the Trojans in the game for much of the first half. They fumbled the ball on three of their next four possessions, as the score remained a seven-point margin until midway through the second period.
“I didn’t like that at all,” said Williams of the turnovers. “That’s something we have to fix. It’s unfortunate we had to turn the ball over and stop our momentum.”
However, when the team got their momentum back, they did so in a big way, scoring three touchdowns in the final six minutes of the quarter.
After forcing a punt and geting the ball on their own 14, the Pirates got back-to-back five-yard runs by David Cain. McCarrell then called his own number and scrambled 76 yards for six points. Daniel Kill then completed a two-point conversion pass to Trey Williams to give Cardington a 15-0 lead.
The Pirates then quickly forced another punt and drove 80 yards in eight plays with two passes from McCarrell to Williams being the big plays. A diving 29-yard catch by the senior back moved the ball from the Pirate 35 to the Trojan 36. After a pair of incompletions, McCarrell hit Williams again for a touchdown. Steckel’s kick put Cardington up by 22 with 2:08 remaining in the half.
In less than a minute, the score was 29-0. A South Central pass was intercepted by Pearl, who returned it to the three-yard line. Two plays later, McCarrell dove into the end zone for his second rushing touchdown (to go with a pair of passing scores) of the night.
In the third quarter, Cardington would get their final touchdown as Nate Craig picked off another Trojan pass and ran it back 34 yards for a score to make it a 36-point margin.
“I think in our last two games, we had a plus-4 margin in turnovers,” said Williams. “We’re creating a lot of opportunities. When you get a guy like Nate Craig, who got injured last year, step up and make a play like that, it’s exciting stuff.”
That touchdown put the game beyond a 30-point margin, causing the remaining 19:19 of action to be played under a running clock. Neither team would score during that time, allowing the Pirates to claim a win heading into next week’s big rivalry game with Mount Gilead, which will be hosted by Cardington.
Coach Williams noted that while it’s nice to get momentum from a dominating win, he figures his players won’t need any help to get excited to play the Indians.
“We don’t need a game to get fired up for Mount Gilead,” he said. “They’ll be ready to play next week.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS