Cardinal jumped all over host Richmond Heights in the first half of Friday’s Chagrin Valley Conference crossover game then had to hold off a late Spartans rally to win 27-14.
The Huskies led 27-0 before Richmond Heights rallied for two fourth quarter scores.
“It was a game that I thought we did a good job,” said Cardinal coach Eric Cardinal. “Initially our game plan was that No. 7, their athlete/quarterback, wouldn’t beat us. Our game plan unraveled a little bit at about the eight minute mark of the fourth quarter and they ended up scoring two long touchdowns.”
The Huskies got on the board early in the first quarter when Richmond Heights was forced to punt from its own 15. Noah Farmwald and a host of other Huskies defenders crashed the middle of the line and blocked the punt.
Nate Peters recovered the fumble and ran it in for a touchdown. The extra point was blocked.
“We needed a three and out and got a three and out,” Cardinal said. “It was a group effort. The middle of the line got up and blocked it and Nate got there and recovered it and scored. Noah Farmwald off of his end position might have gotten a hand up there. He came in at an angle and I think he got his paw up there. If not, he angled the punt and the middle of the line got it.”
Two punts later, Cardinal took over at the Richmond Heights 48. Lester Troyer rushed for 29 yards on first down and Clark Thurling took the ball to the eight. That’s where Peters added his second touchdown of the game with four seconds left in the opening quarter.
KC Cress then picked off a Richmond Heights pass at the Cardinal 28 and the Huskies marched 72 yards in 11 plays. Troyer capped the drive with a two yard touchdown run to make it 20-0 with just over two minutes remaining in the half.
Ryan Riebe’s first career touchdown, a two-yarder early in the fourth, pushed the Husky lead to 27-0.
“We got pretty banged up,” Cardinal said. “Lester Troyer got dinged repeatedly on his ankle, so he was out of the game, and Nate took a shot to the ankle. Ryan, he’s sort of an all-purpose guy for us, played the last couple series at fullback. He got a key block, he got some carries and he scored his first touchdown. He did a good job.”
That’s when the game took a turn for the worst.
The Spartans were flagged four times in the quarter for unsportsmanlike conduct, three times on Riebe’s scoring drive and once on their next offensive possession, and the game officials halted play to restore order.
When play resumed Richmond Heights’ Mykol Brooks engineered two Spartan scoring drives. He scored on a three yard run and threw a 60 yard touchdown pass to close out the scoring.
“I thought we went in with a decent game plan, which was to play a good game of containment, not to lose containment on either side,” Cardinal said. “For most part we did that.”
Cardinal’s defense allowed 256 yards of offense, but most of that came in the fourth quarter. The Huskies recorded four sacks.
“The yardage they got and the scores they got all were in the last six minutes of the game, not that they’re meaningless and I’m not trying to minimize what they did, but the game unraveled a little bit there,” Cardinal said. “I was very satisfied with our defensive effort and defensive productivity.”
The Huskies improved to 4-1 on the year and open conference play next Friday at Kirtland, the defending Division VI state champion. The Hornets are 5-0 and on Friday won their 50th consecutive regular season game.
“Halfway through and we’re 4-1,” Cardinal said. “We’ve got a tremendous challenge with Kirtland. Kirtland is Kirtland, as always. What they have is what you want to have; they have a program. Tiger (LaVerde) has done a good job there.”