Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
ELDON ? It may have been a rough start, but a finish to remember kept the Cardinal football team undefeated Friday night.
A 13-6 win against Lone Tree was preserved with a tremendous goal line stand by the Comet defense that stopped the Lions in their tracks three times inside the three-yard line in the waning seconds. The final Lone Tree drive gave them first and goal at the three-yard line and led to the first-down play that brought them one yard from the end zone with 22 seconds remaining.
?At the timeout, I told the kids to play hard and whatever happens, happens,? said first year Cardinal head coach Darren Hill. ?If they score here, we?ll still have a chance to win this game or go to overtime.?
Apparently, the Comet defense wanted to win right there. A Lone Tree run up the middle was stuffed, followed by a spiked ball to stop the clock to set up one final play from inside the one-yard line with two seconds remaining. Lone Tree tried up the middle one last time, and the Cardinal defense stood strong one last time.
?It would?ve been a great game to watch, but no as much fun to coach,? Hill said.
Both offenses sputtered the first two quarters and went into half time tied 0-0 before a locker room chat put things back on track. On Cardinal?s first drive of the second half, Brandon Warren connected with wide receiver Connor Schlegel for 20 yards to set up a two-yard Warren touchdown run to give the Comets a 7-0 lead.
?I give all the credit to the kids. We had a nice conversation at half time because we really just didn?t come out as sharp as we had the first two games,? Hill said. ?We had a good game plan out of half time and the kids got the belief back that they could do it. They have to learn how to win games.?
Lone Tree never made it easy however, and answered right back to Cardinal?s touchdown as Levi Reitzler went took a 44-yard reception to the end zone to draw the Lions within one point at 7-6.
Jake Scherer, who rushed for 56 yards, proved his defensive worth with an interception midway through the fourth quarter that set up the Comet offense at midfield for a drive that ended with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Warren to Justin Peters to put Cardinal ahead 13-6. Warren finished the game 9-16 for 110 yards passing connecting with five different receivers as part of a Cardinal passing game that gets better each week.
?It?s something we?ve been working on the past couple weeks and there are going to be times that we?ll have to throw,? said Hill. ?Justin Peters ran a great route and Brandon hit him.?
In addition to accounting for both of Cardinal?s touchdowns, Warren ran for 90 more yards and got in on seven tackles.
The victory puts Cardinal at 1-0 in Class A District 5 play ? a total that matches the number of wins from seven district games a year ago. The Comets will look to stay undefeated and post win No. 4 in Friday?s game at Winfield-Mount Union.