It was a difficult night for the Triad Cardinals Friday as they fell 42-0 to Mechanicsburg. Above, members of both teams scramble for the loose ball after Triad fumbled the kickoff that followed Mechanicsburg’s first touchdown. The Indians would recover.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Mac Cordell)
With just three meaningful first downs in the game, it was not difficult for Triad head coach Joe Cardinal to diagnose the problem with his squad following Friday night’s 42-0 loss to Mechanicsburg.
“We have to put some drives together so we can play on the other side of the 50,” said Cardinal.
Triad ran just four plays inside Indian territory and only one inside the 45.
“In the end, we have to move the ball to take some pressure off the defense,” Cardinal said. “They have to make plays to get off the field, but our offense has to help them and not keep putting them back in these situations where they are right back on the field.”
Mechanicsburg scored just 99 seconds into the game. Running back Dustin Knapp punched the ball into the end zone from two yards out, but it was Indian quarterback Logan Hurst who put his team on the doorstep with a 54-yard run through the Triad defense.
Cardinal Andy Martin returned the ensuing kickoff, only to lay it on the ground at his own 29-yard line.
Despite the positive field position, the Cardinal defense was able to keep its guests out of the end zone.
“I thought our defense played hard, fought all night,” Cardinal said. “I can’t fault their effort.”
On Mechanicsburg’s third possession, the Indians were able to once again march down the field. Hurst completed two passes and ran twice, including a 19-yard scramble on third and 11. Mechanicsburg’s Joey Masada earned the drives final 14 yards on an inside run that he bounced outside and into the end zone.
As they had on the game’s first score, the Indians failed to earn the extra points.
“I thought, going down 12-0 early is tough,” Cardinal said. “I’ve said it before, we have to start better.”
Triad went three-and-out on the next possession, but stole the ball back on Mechanicsburg’s first play of the resulting drive.
Martin had tight coverage on his man and when the ball came to him, he jumped over his man and snagged the ball at his team’s 36-yard line.
Early in the second quarter, the Cardinals got their initial first down and crossed midfield. The success was short-lived and Knapp intercepted a Jordan Simonelli pass.
Late in the second quarter, the Indians pushed the ball deep into Triad’s side of the field. On third and nine, the Cardinal defense forced an incomplete pass to set up a fourth down. The officials called a late hit on Triad’s Easton Huffman, giving the Indians a first-and-goal from the seven.
“That was a tough call, to stop them and then give it to them on a late hit… that’s tough,” Cardinal said.
Knapp scored on a trap play on the next play. Knapp rumbled into the end zone again seconds later to add the two-point conversion.
Less than a minute later, Mechanicsburg’s Justin Hunt intercepted a Simonelli pass at the Triad 40-yard line.
Facing fourth-and-three from the Triad 33-yard line, Keith Bebout ran a counter play from the right wing position and sprinted around the left side, down the sideline and into the end zone. A Knapp run again added the two-point conversion and the game went to the half with Mechanicsburg leading its hosts, 28-0.
The score remained 28-0 through the third quarter, but it took Mechanicsburg just one play into the fourth stanza to get back into the end zone.
Hurst connected with Bebout on a 43-yard scoring pass. Bebout caught the ball near the home sideline about the 10 and spun away from his Cardinal defender before sprinting into the end zone.
Mechanicsburg scored its final points on its lastl possession, The Indians covered 34 yards, using 4:07 of the quarter, though the game’s running clock helped. Chase Propst blasted into the end zone from five yards out. Johnny Samples booted the extra point making the final score 42-0.
Cardinal said he had advice for Martin and Cam Atchison on senior night.
“I said, for the seniors, enjoy this, take this in because this is the last time you will walk off this field,” Cardinal said. “But I also told them to stay focused because we’ve got two more games. The football season is a grind and anyone who has ever played football knows it. You have to make yourself stay focused.”
With the loss, Triad falls to 1-7 on the season and 1-5 in the Ohio Heritage Conference. They will travel Friday to 4-4 Fairbanks, a conference newcomer.
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