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Canfield Cardinals come up short at Dover

September 18, 2014
By Nik Zirounis - Town Crier correspondent , The Town Crier

Down 21-3 early in the fourth quarter at powerful Dover Sept. 12, the Canfield Cardinals clawed their way back into the contest and almost staged an incredible rally to upset the terrific Tornadoes. Instead, that comeback came up a little short as Dover prevailed, 21-18.

''The kids played hard until the end,'' said Canfield head coach Mike Pavlansky. ''It just didn't work out for us. We're almost there. I'm proud of them.''

Pavlansky is proud because the Cardinals could have easily curled up in the corner and allowed the Tornadoes to finish off their destruction after falling behind 21-3. That's just not the way these Cardinals are wired, however.

Down 18 points early in the fourth quarter, Canfield started its comeback when Aaron Jenkins strolled 27 yards for a score to make it 21-10. Six minutes later, Jenkins made his presence known in the passing game when he made a connection with Matt Milligan for a 9-yard touchdown.

After Jenkins' two-point conversion run, Canfield was within a field goal of a tie. That field goal chance never materialized, though, because Dover was able to put away the game.

The contest may have been put on ice at that point, but the Redbird's running game was red-hot all evening. Jenkins ran 32 times for 162 yards. Drew Rodgers rambled for 92 yards on the ground. The Cardinals accumulated over 300 yards rushing in total and a huge reason for that was the players up front.

''Our offensive line is coming along,'' Pavlansky said. ''They have been getting better each week.''

Another group that has played better from week one to last week is the defensive unit. Canfield's defense had a huge goal line stand in the first half when it stopped Dover three times from the 1-yard line. A score by the Tornadoes at that point would have given the home team a huge 14-0 advantage.

Pavlansky was pleased with how well his ''D'' has been developing since summer practice, but thinks there is more work to be done.

''The defense has proven themselves every week,'' he said. ''We still need improvement (from the defense) if we want to get to where we want to be.''

The place Pavlansky's bunch wants to be this week is the friendly confines of Bob Dove Field. That is where Howland will come visiting this Friday for the first All-American Conference game of the season.

The Tigers are 2-1 thanks to a 31-24 defeat of Lakeview last week. If the Tigers are to win two in a row over teams coached by a Pavlansky (Mike's brother Tom is the head coach at Lakeview), they will do it using their legs.

''(Howland) likes to run the football,'' said Pavlansky. ''That will be different from the kind of offenses we've seen the first three weeks.''

A team that runs may be different than Canfield's past opponents, but very similar to what the Cardinals love to do each week. It may help the Canfield defense, which is used to seeing a ton of running in practice. That is why handicapping this game is pretty simple for Canfield's coach.

''The team that is most effective running the football has the best chance to win,'' Pavlansky said.



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