Waterloo’s attempt to put away the Cardinal Huskies in Friday’s non-conference game in Atwater backfired.
The Vikings lined up for a 35-yard field goal that would have given them a 9-point lead with just over two minutes left to play but a surge from the Cardinal defensive front hurried the kick and seconds later freshman Tyson Sinclair had scooped up the batted down football and took it 75 yards the other way for a touchdown.
“Tyson Sinclair, he’s just a fast little back so we put him on the edge and said go in and try and get it,” said Cardinal coach Eric Cardinal. “The kick, it was not going to be a made field goal. It kind of grazed the rear end of the center and I think Tyson got a finger on it and it did one of those swirly things and was zipping around like a top. There were 22 guys watching it, including our guys. I’m saying, ‘Pick it up.’ Tyson finally picks it up and, he has to be the fastest guy on the field, ran with it. He’s just a 14-year old kid. I thought he’d be sweating bullets out there but he made a play.”
Simms and Peters made a play too but only after Cardinal’s defense got the ball back for the Huskies again.
“Instead of playing for overtime or field position they aired it out and we got the ball back again,” Cardinal said. “We scored two touchdowns in the last three minutes of the game and pulled it out.”
The Huskies, who improved to 2-1 after their second straight win, got off to a fast start.
Simms returned the opening kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown and Brice Hogue ran for a two-point conversion to make it 8-0. Peters then ran 35 yards for the first of this three scores to increase the lead to 14-0.
Waterloo’s William Bolanz cut the lead in half with a 10-yard run but Peters broke a 51-yard run and Jimmy Wilcox converted the two-point try to make it 22-7 with eight minutes to play in the first quarter.
The Vikings responded with two second quarter touchdowns to cut Cardinal’s lead to 22-21 at halftime.
Bolanz threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Overby to give the Vikings their first lead, 28-22, with 2 minutes, 31 seconds left in the third.
A Cardinal drive stalled inside the Waterloo 20 and the Vikings marched to the Husky 25, where Sinclair set up the comeback.
“We drove down, pretty much the length of the field, and stalled on their 10,” Cardinal said. “All they had to do was run out the clock but they got down on our end and decided to pass. They stopped the clock for us a couple of times then tried to ice the game with a field goal that would have put them up by nine. We blocked it and tied the score.”
Simms, who completed 2 of 4 passes for 74 yards, nearly hooked up with Jake Francis on a long touchdown on the series before Sinclair’s blocked kick. The pass was just out of Francis’ reach. Simms wasn’t about to miss another opportunity.
“It was a Rocket Pass,” said Peters, who finished the day with 15 carries for 139 yards and two rushing touchdowns in addition to his game-winning reception. “I caught it about 15 yards down the field and ran it in. Mainly it was Kyle’s throw. He put it right where it needed to be. I caught it and just had to run to the end zone because there was nobody on me. Before that it came down to our defense. We had really good defense on that last drive. The defense stopped it and that gave us the momentum.”
Hogue, a freshman, carried five times for 86 yards for the Huskies and Wilcox, a first-year junior, had 16 carries for 52 yards.
They were just two of the young or inexperienced players the Huskies were forced to suit up after a rash of injuries, including one to their kicker that forced Cardinal to attempt a two-point conversion after every score.
“We have been bit by the injury bug,” Cardinal said. “The kid I was excited about last week after he rushed for 100 yards, Trey Shirkey, he has his foot in a boot for the next couple of weeks and I was without my all-league, all-county defensive end, Noah Farmwald, so we were searching for guys to move around. We were pleased we jumped out to a big lead then we proceeded to have a couple of penalties and blown assignments. Next thing you know were’ in a ball game and in the third quarter we were behind.”
Despite the youth movement the Huskies have won two straight and seemingly have put the 47-14 Week 1 loss to Garrettsville Garfield behind them.
“Our kids are starting to grow up,” Cardinal said. “We were counting how many freshmen we had on the field. Even though it was not a hot night we had guys going down with cramps. For much of the third quarter we had a freshman playing right guard and our outside linebacker for much of th second quarter was a freshman. It was a freshman that ran the TD back from the blocked field goal and a sophomore starting running back. We had five freshmen playing crucial roles in the game that weren’t even in our game plan three weeks ago. They got thrown into the fire when some things happened before game 1. You can see some of those kids begin to think they belong out there. We’re no way a finished product. We’re still young but this is the kind of team I think will improve a little bit week by week.”
Cardinal hosts Independence on Friday in the first game of the new look Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division.