Pirates struggle on offense against Centerburg
After graduating many of their skill players, including the conference’s top running back in Blair Wolcott, the Cardington Pirates figured it’d take time for their offense to gel this season.
Those growing pains were on display when the team hosted Centerburg on Friday, as the Pirates were held to three first downs and a field goal in a 28–3 loss.
“Centerburg did a heck of a job,” said Cardington coach Brandon Dodrill. “They’re fast, big and strong. Those kids played their tail off — their guys up front probably won them the game. We were flying around, but just couldn’t win the battle up front.”
Centerburg’s defensive line made it hard for the Pirates to either run or pass the ball — and squandered a couple of great plays by the Cardington ‘D’.
After going three-and-out on their first possession, the Pirates got the ball back on the Trojan 39 after an interception by Tyler Dornan. However, in three plays, Cardington moved backwards five yards and was forced to punt.
Centerburg immediately fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Dornan. Cardington started from the Trojan 15, but three running plays only moved them to the eight.
The Pirates still got points off this turnover, as Colton Jenkins was able to drill a 25-yard field goal to give them the lead just over six minutes into the game.
Unfortunately for Cardington, they weren’t able to stop Centerburg with a timely turnover on their next possession. A 42-yard run by quarterback Tyler Stoyle got them in the Pirate red zone and Joey Valentine followed with a one-yard scoring dive three plays later. Brett Sockman followed with the first of four successful point-after kicks to give his team a 7–3 lead with 4:19 to go in the first.
Centerburg threatened on their next possession, moving the ball inside the red zone again before a penalty and sack conspired to move them out of scoring range.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, they were unable to move the ball offensively and the Trojan offense was eventually able to capitalize on its opportunities.
After taking over on their 37 after a Cardington punt with four minutes to go in the half, the Trojans held the ball for 12 plays and scored on a Stoyle dive with only three seconds to go in the half to expand their lead to a 14–3 margin.
“We just couldn’t move the ball and couldn’t get that push,” said Dodrill. “We got two turnovers and only got three points…we couldn’t capitalize.”
The Pirate problems were compounded in the third quarter by a turnover of their own, as quarterback Dustin Blanton coughed up the ball while being sacked and a Trojan defender scooped it up and ran 30 yards for a touchdown.
Centerburg added one more score in the fourth quarter and went on to win by a 25-point margin.
Charlie Miller ran for 52 yards, while Blanton completed a 13-yard pass to Peyton Barnett, but the Pirates weren’t able to sustain drives in the loss.
Dodrill noted that he was pleased with the effort, but just feels the execution needs to be better.
“I’m not disappointed in the kids at all,” he said. “We played hard, but just couldn’t execute offensively this evening.”