Going into the half of their 20-12 win over Northmor Friday, things could have been going better for the Cardington football team.
Playing on the road, the Pirates weren’t being dominated on the stat sheet, but the scoreboard read 12-0 in favor of the Golden Knights due to a few key plays going against Cardington.
Such as the first play from scrimmage, when Northmor quarterback Marcus Cortez called his own number and wound up sprinting 53 yards for six points.
Or during their first drive of the contest when they took the ball from their 30 to the Northmor 28 before fumbling the ball to the Golden Knights.
Or a number of other instances, such as a pair of interceptions, turning the ball over on downs once and helping to extend a Northmor scoring drive with a pair of penalties on one play.
“We’ve had a couple rough first halves,” said Pirate coach Tod Brininger. “The first play was awful. We played better after that, but a couple holding calls hurt us.”
However, the team played a lot more soundly in the second half and benefited from Northmor’s struggles with penalties and turnovers to turn that 12-point deficit into an eight-point win.
The team trailed by a 12-0 score due to Northmor adding a touchdown late in the second quarter. The Golden Knights got the ball on their own 17. After two runs by Cortez netted 13 yards, the quarterback hit Trenton Ramos for a 38-yard gain. With the ball on the Cardington 32, Max Lower ran for seven yards and the Pirates were hit with penalties for both a personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct.
Those flags moved the ball to the Pirate seven and Lower was able to take the ball in from there to give his team a 12-0 lead going into the half.
However, the Pirates got the ball first in the second half and were able to not only score, but also eat 6:35 off the clock on a 14-play drive that ended with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Nate Hickman to Zach Lester and a two-point conversion pass from Hickman to Trey Brininger.
“What we talked about at halftime was that we’re going to get the ball and go down and score,” said coach Brininger. “It took a little bit longer than anticipated, but the kids knew what we were going to do and did it.”
Things got even worse for the Golden Knights when they immediately fumbled the ball back to Cardington. Barely two minutes after their first score, the Pirates reached the end zone again on a 30-yard pass from Hickman to Brininger.
Northmor coach Scott Armrose felt his team’s issues after falling to 1-2, 0-2 in league play, could be summed up by one word: consistency.
“That’s exactly the word we’ve been missing the last two weeks — consistency,” he said. “We were one block away. We had big runs that got called back. Defensively, we played hard. Their offense was a result of our inconsistency on offense. If we were more consistent on offense… We have to clean things up on offense.”
Northmor’s next drive showed both the good and bad sides of their offense. Starting from their 37, they got a 19-yard run by Cortez and one for 12 yards by Lower to help move the ball to the Pirate 18. However, a false start and a pair of holds left them in a second-and-32 from the 40. While they were able to get a six-yard run by Cortez and a 17-yard pass from him to Ramos, they wound up turning the ball over on downs at the 17.
“That’s just part of what we’re doing offensively — sloppy,” said Armrose. “We make big plays and make big mistakes.”
And Cardington’s final touchdown came directly off a Northmor mistake, as Joe Denney picked off a pass with under a minute left in regulation and was able to run it back to provide his team’s final six points.
Brininger felt his defense overall did a good job of contending with Northmor’s one-two rush attack of Lower and Cortez.
“We knew #6 (Lower) is a big, strong kid and it takes more than one to take him down and #1 (Cortez) is shifty and quick and hard to take down. They have a lot of good players. It’s good that we played as a team and swarmed defensively.”
Cortez finished with 110 yards rushing and also completed 11 passes for 84 yards. Lower added 51 yards rushing and Ramos had six catches for 65 yards, while Griffin Workman added two for 10. For Cardington, Ayden Plowman ran for 60 yards. Hickman completed 19 passes for 228 yards. Brininger caught nine for 148, while Lester had five for 32 and Ashton Plowman finished with four catches and 45 yards.
With a team that’s 2-1 on the season, Tod Brininger is hoping for one big improvement going forward — getting out to better starts.
“We’re going to talk to them Sunday and Monday about coming out the first drive of the first quarter,” he said. “All three games, they’ve come out and scored on us and all three were big plays.”