GATES MILLS–The Hawken Hawks (2-2) overcame an early seven-point deficit, never looking back as the host school cruised to a resounding 50-7 statement win over Cardinal (2-2) at Walton Field on Friday night.
The contest was Hawken’s first conference matchup of the 2021 season.
Early on in the first quarter, it looked like the Huskies might give Hawken a game, as three straight completions in the passing game from quarterback Logan Strever had the Huskies jumping out to a quick touchdown after junior running back Ethan Detwiller broke a Hawken arm tackle and sprinted 55 yards for the night’s opening salvo.
Despite the quick score, the Cardinal offense was held scoreless the rest of the way by Hawken’s swarming, attacking defense.
The Hawks quickly answered when senior quarterback Terrence Robinson threw a touchdown pass to senior tight end A.J. Sands in the front corner of the end zone.
Lining up for the extra point, Robinson faked the hold and pivoted to his left, once again finding Sands behind enemy lines for the successful two-point conversion.
After Hawken’s 3-4 front got the visiting offense off once again after a quick three plays, and a nifty scramble from Robinson set them up in plus field position, this time it was senior running back Dom Johnson sashaying through defenders after scooping up an incomplete lateral from Robinson and dashing in from 23-yards out to cap off another nice drive by the Hawken offensive unit. It was a heady play by the junior running back, as basically all of the Cardinal defenders had given up on the play.
“That’s the mentality that we want to build: you play to the whistle,” Hawken coach Brian Stephenson said in the post-game. “So, we harp on that, and in practice normally we’re running two whistles so everyone is flying around and you play to the whistle, and that’s what it is all about. Good things happen when you play to the whistle.”
Now up 15-7 to start off the second quarter, after another three-and-out from Cardinal the shifty and lighting fast Johnson took his first touch and raced 52 yards to put Hawken up 22-7 on a nifty delay up the middle.
With 11 minutes left to play in the first half, Cardinal’s fake punt was snuffed out quickly by Sands, whose quick reactions stopped the Huskies in the backfield and set up the Hawks in great field position.
All in all, Robinson would cash in two more offensive drives with rushing touchdowns before the halftime break, one from 21 yards out where he dove for the pylon at the goal line, and the other from three yards out with 45 seconds left in the half, to push the lead to 36-7 at the break.
“Execution and discipline. For me that was the biggest thing (I saw) tonight,” Stephenson said. “We talked about playing up to our potential this week, so we wanted to see discipline and execution tonight in all three phases of the game. That was the most important part for us.”
The second half featured a continuously running clock due to the wide margin on the scoreboard.
Two more scores from Robinson, a nice toss to sophomore wide receiver Ben Reitman in the back of the end zone and a scintillating 40-yard scramble around left end, closed out the scoring on the night for the victorious home side.
“We did a good job adjusting to their front,” Stephenson replied when asked how his quarterback and running back both had so much success on the ground. “They came out and ran a three-man front and a three-three stunt that we’ve had a little trouble against the past two weeks and our kids did a great job of blocking it. And that was for us all about learning from our mistakes the last two weeks and capitalizing on it.”
Cardinal head coach Chris Perrotti did not take the road loss lightly, pledging to focus on the fundamentals this week as his team returns home on Friday night to take on Painesville Harvey after a three-week road trip to start the season.
“Like I was just telling my kids, we’ve got to get back to the basics. I’ve made some mistakes myself in trying to (install) too much in practice and I’m not doing the fundamental stuff, like blocking and tackling, and we did not perform well in those areas tonight,” he said. “They ran the ball and we knew going into this year that our weakness was the outside run, and they ran outside tonight and they were phenomenal at it. We’ve just got to do a better job at understanding our assignments and tackling.”
Robinson would finish the night with five total touchdowns on the night, two through the air and the rest coming on the heels of a strong rushing performance from the athletic signal-caller. Johnson would finish the game with two touchdowns on the ground himself and a boatload of rushing yards. The only turnover on the night came late in the fourth quarter on a leaping game-sealing interception by Hawken freshman DB Ryan Whiting.
Hawken heads out on the road Friday night to Orwell to take on a 0-3 Grand Valley team.