Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Huskies defense steps up in win over Hawken

MIDDLEFIELD—Cardinal’s football team seems to play its best football at Richard A. Moss Field and that isn’t by accident.

The Huskies, who defeated Hawken, 20-13, on Friday to improve to 3-5 overall, are now 3-0 on their home field.

“Last year we were 0-5 at home,” said sophomore defensive back Brice Hogue. “This year we want to be (undefeated). We set our goals pretty high but it’s feeling pretty good right now.”

Hogue secured the Huskies’ win with an interception at the Cardinal 21 with 2 minutes, 23 seconds left in the game.

The Hawks scored on a one-yard touchdown run 15 seconds earlier to pull to within one score then recovered an onside kick to really make things interesting in the closing seconds of the contest.

Hogue focused on stopping the Hawks and came up with the interception on a throw over the middle.

“Every play is a new play,” he said. “You've got to let everything go. The team needed it; I used it and took advantage.”

Both teams were strong on defense throughout the game, especially in the early goings.

Hawken stopped Cardinal on a fourth-and-1 and took over possession at the Huskies’ 42. The Hawks drove to the Cardinal 15 but the Huskies stepped up on defense and kept Hawken out of the end zone.

The Hawks finally broke the scoreless tie on a 19-yard touchdown pass from T.J. Perusek to Will Rowley for a 7-0 lead.

Junior Cam Klepper tied it when he broke free on a 38-yard touchdown with 4:49 left in the half.

“When they went down and scored you could think the air would go out of the balloon but it didn't,” said Cardinal coach Eric Cardinal. “They had enough resolve to go ahead and take the game back.”

Cardinal’s defense recovered a fumble at the Hawks’ 22 and Robbie Mulh scored on the first play from scrimmage to give the Huskies a 13-7 lead at the break.

Sophomore Trey Shirkey set up Cardinal’s next touchdown when he broke two tackles at the line of scrimmage and carried three Hawken defenders with him for 15 yards to the goal line. One of those Hawks popped the football out of Shirkey’s grip but Hayden Cummins, who recently converted from a tight end to guard, was there in the end zone to fall on the ball for a touchdown.

“I just saw an opportunity when I was blocking my guy and dove on it,” Cummins said. “Honestly, since switching to guard, I had no expectations of scoring at all, so that felt amazing.”

Cardinal’s Tyson Sinclair picked off a pass at the Cardinal 15 to once again deny the Hawks of a scoring opportunity.

The Hawks made six trips into the red zone but came away with points on just two of those series.

“I felt that we withstood a little bit of adversity with a couple things and still came away alright,” Cardinal said. “The fact that we, I hate to invoke the old rubber band, but they got us down in our territory. I though the whole game was played inside our 30 for a while there, but the number of stops we got inside the 30 was a testament to a little bit of resolve there.”

Hawken’s Evan Ditchman scored on a one-yard run with 2:39 left to close out the scoring.

“My thought was that Hawken came to steal a game,” Cardinal said. “They've seen our record and they know that we've had a tough way to go and they came with a purpose and I thought we took their best punch, which was pretty good, they came down and scored, and came back to play hard and get the win.”

The Huskies outgained the Hawks, 245-229, but the three forced turnovers were the difference in the game.

Shirkey led the Cardinal ground attack with 72 yards on 10 carries. Klepper rushed five times for 56 yards David Braun added 51 yards on 11 carries. Shirkey, Braun and Matt Carney each recorded three tackles to lead the Huskies on defense.

Cardinal closes out the home portion of its schedule on Friday against 0-8 Richmond Heights. The Hawks, who dropped to 1-7, travel to Fairport.

“We decided at the beginning of the season that our goal this year was to be undefeated at home, and that's exactly what we plan to do,” Cummins said. “It's that mentality going in to the game of, ‘We have to win,’ and that's exactly what we plan to do.”

Trent Mast and Allissa Nevison were named Homecoming King and Queen prior to the start of the game.


Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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