Second-half miscues proved costly for the Cardington football team when they traveled to Elgin Friday night, as the Comets pulled away down the stretch to finish on top by a 30-14 margin.
After giving up a quick touchdown to open the third quarter, the Pirates put forth a 13-play drive to turn an 18-8 deficit into an 18-14 score. Wyatt Denney ran for 37 of the team’s 61 yards on the drive, Warren Garrison hit Journey Williamson for eight yards and Kaiden Beach had a 10-yard completion to Kalin Briggs and also ran six yards for the score. Denney added a two-point conversion run to bring the Pirates within four points with 4:58 to go in the third.
Cardington would then have a chance to take the lead after their defense forced a three-and-out. Unfortunately, the rest of the game did not go their way. The legs of Beach and Denney moved them from their 20 to their 46 and Beach then busted a big gain to convert a short fourth down. However, the team was called for holding on that play and had to punt.
After Elgin drove down to the Cardington 26, they were facing a fourth-and-one. While they were able to convert on a Brody Wood scramble, the Pirates forced a fumble on the play. While they had a chance to get the ball, they could not secure it and it ended up in Elgin hands at the Cardington eight. Four plays later, the team pushed it in from the one, after missing a two-point conversion, led 24-14 with 4:24 remaining in the game.
Compounding Cardington’s woes, they weren’t able to field the ensuing kickoff, giving Elgin the ball on the Pirate 34, leading to a long scoring run by Breckin Dugan that provided the final points of the game. While Cardington moved the ball deep into Elgin territory on their final possession, the clock ran out in the red zone.
“Unfortunately, the ball didn’t bounce our way and it hasn’t yet,” said Pirate coach Ryan Goetzman. “We have to get back to the drawing board and get back to work next week.”
The coach felt that his team shot itself in the foot with untimely penalties that both crippled their drives and helped out those by the Comets.
“Just bad penalties at bad times,” he said. “A couple things here and there that didn’t go our way.”
To open the game, Cardington’s first possession only lasted three plays thanks to a bad snap leading to a 15-yard loss on the first play from scrimmage. Elgin then took the Pirate punt back to the Cardington 32 and reached the end zone five plays later to lead 6-0 at the 7:49 mark of the opening period.
However, Cardington would rally. After taking the kick to their own 45, the Pirates took advantage of a 43-yard scramble by Beach to tie the score on a five-yard run by Denney.
Neither team could score on their next possession — with back-to-back penalties on Cardington moving the ball from the Comet 45 to their 32 — but Elgin would then hold the ball for over five minutes in regaining the advantage.
Taking the ball on their 41, the Comets ran 11 plays before Dugan scored on an 11-yard run to put his team up 12-6. A penalty played a role in that scoring drive, too, as the Pirates were flagged for being offside on a fourth-and-three play from their 41.
Late in the half, the Pirates had a chance to score. Taking the ball on their 33 with 3:07 on the clock, runs by Greg Donaldson and Beach moved the ball near midfield and a 16-yard pass from Beach to Briggs took it into Comet territory at the 39. Beach then hit Williamson for 21 yards to move into the red zone at the 18. However, the drive would
stall there and the team would turn the ball over on downs with seconds left in the half.
Beach ran for 86 yards and passed for 77 more, while Denney contributed 61 on the ground and caught a pass for 32 more. Williamson, Briggs and Denton Garrison all caught two passes.
One thing Goetzman is hoping for is some better luck with the injury bug. Entering the game, he had a number of players in street clothes on the sidelines and a few more got banged up during the game with Elgin.
“You look at the team, counting both sides of the ball, and we were down 12 starters at some point tonight,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS