Big plays pave way for Cardington’s 32-6 win over MG
By ROB HAMILTON
While the Cardington football team struggled in the early parts of the year, things are improving for the Pirates as the season gets closer to its conclusion.
On Friday, Cardington gained its second straight win as they topped archrival Mount Gilead by a 32–6 margin during cold and rainy conditions. After an 0–7 start, the Pirates are now 2–7 heading into this week’s season-ending contest at winless Ridgedale.
“The kids played with a lot of heart,” said head coach Brandon Dodrill. “They’ve gotten better all year long. We got pounded pretty good, but are on a path to finish strong.”
Big plays are what led the Pirates to the win, as four of their five touchdowns were on plays of at least 65 yards. The first of those touchdowns happened in the first quarter after a false start penalty on fourth-and-short from the Pirate 45 moved Mount Gilead back five yards and forced them to punt.
Cardington took over on their 24. Two runs by Chase Deckling moved the ball to the 35 and Colton Jenkins took it the rest of the way, going 65 yards on a run to get his team on the scoreboard at 6–0.
The Pirates then tried an onside kick, but Mount Gilead recovered the ball on the Cardington 38. Unfortunately for the Indians, another untimely false start turned fourth-and-manageable to a much longer play and they wound up turning the ball over on downs.
Indian coach Steve Ringer noted that his team made too many mistakes in key situations.
“We killed ourselves on a couple of drives early with false starts,” he said. “And we defensively missed a bunch of tackles.”
They did recover a fumble on Cardington’s next drive. The Pirates moved as close as the Inidan 30, but the turnover ended that scoring threat.
Three runs by Bashaw and a pair of passes from Payton Vanderkooi to Michael Bland got the ball to the Pirate 26. On fourth down, the Indians got a break when Cardington jumped offside, but the opportunity was squandered when they turned the ball over on downs on the Pirate seven.
It looked like the Mount Gilead defense would be able to bail the team out when they forced a four-yard loss on their opponent’s first run from scrimmage. However, Chase Deckling got the ball on the second play and sprinted 97 yards for the touchdown. Quarterback Dustin Blanton then ran in the two-point conversion to make the score 14–0 with 5:24 to go in the half.
The Indians would get back in the game on their next drive, as Bashaw returned the kickoff to midfield. After three runs got things to the Pirate 35, the team got a 30-yard pass play to put them in scoring range. ON the next play, Bland took the handoff in for six, which brought the visitors within eight points.
However, Cardington would dominate the final 2:50 of the half to take a 20-point lead into halftime.
After the ensuing Indian kickoff went into the end zone for a touchback, Dodrill went back to Deckling — with the same result. The senior back took the handoff 80 yards for a touchdown that gave his team a 20–6 lead.
Mount Gilead then fumbled the kickoff and four more carries by Deckling put the ball back in the end zone for Cardington. His 13-yard scoring run made things 26–6 at the half.
While Cardington’s offense didn’t get any more points in the second half, their defense did more than enough to keep them on top.
Mount Gilead’s first drive of the third quarter was their best of the half, as they went from their 35 to the Pirate 18 before an errant pass was picked off by Tyler Dornan and returned all the way for the game’s final touchdown.
Both teams had scoring opportunities in the fourth quarter, but wound up turning the ball over on downs inside their opponents’ 25.
Ringer noted that his team’s mistakes put them in long-yardage passing situations during a night where the weather wasn’t good for that sort of gameplan.
“They (the mistakes) put you in third and long and the weather tonight makes it hard on the pass game,” said the coach. “My hat’s off to them (Cardington) — they played a hard, tough game.”
Dodrill, who watched Deckling rush for 247 yards in the win, was pleased with how his team was able to execute. He noted that his players have improved as the season has progressed, with the last two weeks being proof of that.
“We had a lot of guys who had to learn a lot of new positions this year,” he said. “The guys have gotten better all year and that’s all I ask them to do.”