CARDINGTON — Northmor came to town expecting a fight — and that’s exactly what the host Pirates gave them.
The Golden Knights (4-0, 1-0) built a 14-0 halftime lead, but Cardington (1-3, 0-1) battled back strong in the second half in a 21-14 loss.
“We knew it was going to be a tough ball game. You have two football teams committed to running the ball. You had two football teams that did a few things throwing the ball too,” said Northmor head coach Scott Armrose.
Max Lower’s 1-yard run capped an 8-play, 55-yard drive to put the Knights ahead 7-0 after Caleb Schnuerer’s first of three extra point kicks.
“We knew coming in to this week we had to clean things up offensively, and I think in the first half we were able to do that. I don’t know that we had one penalty in the first half.”
The second Northmor touchdown came courtesy of a strip of the football in the end zone by defensive lineman Gavin Whited. That play put the visitors ahead 14-0 with 2:44 left in the first half.
“Our kids battled, down 14-0. We couldn’t tackle that well in the first half,” said Cardington head coach Tod Brininger. “We were on their legs a lot of plays, but couldn’t bring them down.
“Lower’s a great running back. We were hitting him low, but bouncing off instead of wrapping.”
As the first half was nearing its end Lower broke loose on a 70-yard screen pass down the middle of the field, but was caught by Ayden Plowman at the 1-yard-line.
“Ayden Plowman’s play running him down. That’s a huge play. That was a momentum boost for us. The Plowmans are unbelievable; the rest of the kids are unbelievable. Just the effort,” Brininger said.
Northmor opened the second half with a 67-yard drive capped by a 15-yard Marcus Cortez pass to Andrew Armose making it a 21-0 score with 4:13 remaining in the third quarter.
But the Pirates countered on their next series.
Nate Hickman hit Ayden Plowman for a 44-yard touchdown down the sideline. The two-point conversion failed and it was 21-6 with 2:08 to go in the quarter.
Kaiden Beach, subbing for an injured Hickman, drove the team downfield and scored from a yard out with 9:07 left in the game. Ayden Plowman’s run made it 21-14.
The Pirates held Northmor to force a punt and got the ball back at its 22 with 5:24 left in the contest.
A Trenton Ramos interception sealed the win for the Knights.
“We got a little bit ugly and we struggled offensively. Defensively, our effort is just there. It’s there all night,” Armrose said.
“They’ve got speed everywhere. They are going to break big plays like they did last week against Colonel Crawford. That offense is going to score points. So to hold them to 14 points is quite an accomplishment.”
Cortez was 8-of-11 for 125 yards passing. Ramos caught 5 passes for 29 yards.
Lower ran for 85 yards on 18 carries. Cortez added 25 rushing yards and Niko Christo 23.
Hickman connected on 9-of-10 passing attempts for 57 yards. He led the team in rushing with 84 yards on 13 carries.
Ayden Plowman had 4 catches for 62 yards for the Pirates.
Friday Northmor plays at Danville. The Blue Devils topped Fredericktown, 28-21.
“It’s been a nice rivalry since the KMAC has been put together and we’re excited about the match-up.”
Cardington never quit, Brininger said.
“My quarterback gets knocked out again for the second week. He couldn’t move his arm and he wants to go back in and play.
“That’s a very good team, a 3-0 team coming in. We’ve got to come over that hump. We’re not a great team coming back. We’ve got to be tied or a one-score game and just grind it out.”
The Pirates travel to East Knox on Friday. The Bulldogs defeated Centerburg, 41-28.
“The quarterback is a stud. It’s a long line of good quarterbacks in that family. He likes to throw it around and he’s pretty accurate,” Brininger said.
“East Knox has been good for a long time. They are used to winning.”