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Cardinals win turnover battle against the Wildcats

October 23, 2014
By Nik Zirounis - Town Crier correspondent , The Town Crier

In this day of spread offenses and coaches treating the running game like it is poisonous, it seemed like an old timers football game last Friday night in Struthers.

Canfield and Struthers combined to throw 30 passes all game while running the ball an amazing 82 times.

The Wildcats may have run the ball better, but the Cardinals ran smarter. Struthers fumbled the ball three times, and although it outrushed Canfield by a handful of yards, the Cardinals were able to come away with a 38-20 victory. The win was the Cardinals' first one in the All American Conference this season as they improved to 4-4 overall.

According to Canfield head coach Mike Pavlansky, the difference in the game was his team's ball-hawking defense.

''We forced four turnovers,'' said Pavlansky. ''Winning the turnover battle was huge for us.''

The way the game started for the Cardinals was huge as well. Just seconds into the contest, Canfield running back C.J. Frost rumbled 63-yards for the night's first score. After the Wildcats tied the score at 7-7, Canfield kept pace and finished a nice drive with a 40-yard Aaron Jenkins touchdown run that gave the visitors a touchdown lead after one quarter.

That first period run by Jenkins was his first score, but certainly not his last. The senior started at quarterback for the first time in a while due to an injury and he ended up being a factor in four of Canfield's five touchdowns.

Jenkins broke a 14-14 tie in the second quarter when he connected with Jake Cummings for a 21-yard touchdown pass. He also found John French for a 25-yard touchdown pass and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to put the game away in the fourth period.

Jenkins enjoyed a night that saw him throw for 76 yards and two touchdowns and rush for 94 yards and two more scores. No doubt, Jenkins jolts the Cardinals' offense when he is behind center.

''Having Aaron back was a key,'' Pavlansky admitted. ''We know we can throw, but we just like to run more. (Niles) plugged some holes so that let our receivers run free in the secondary.''

French was the freest of the Canfield receivers, finishing the game with four catches for 51 yards and a score. Frost, who has been assuming a lot of the rushing load lately, led the team with 94 yards and a touchdown. Kicker Bryan Kristan hit all five of his extra point attempts and added a 33-yard field goal.

Canfield will attempt to kick free of the .500 mark this Friday when it hosts Niles. It will be the Cardinals' first of two straight home games to finish the season with the showdown versus archrival Poland in week 10.

The Red Dragons were shutout by that same Bulldogs bunch 35-0 a week ago to fall to 1-7. Niles is still looking for its first conference win, too. Coach Pavlansky said never mind the Red Dragons' past performances, they will be a tough matchup on Friday.

''No matter the record, Niles will come to play,'' he said. ''They always play tough-nosed defense.''

There was little defense in last year's battle between the two All American Conference schools when the Cardinals set a plethora of records in a 70-62 double overtime classic. That marked the second straight season the Canfield / Niles game ended in overtime.

If the Cards can win the turnover battle like it did against Struthers and rack up those yards on the ground, then another overtime with the Red Dragons should not be necessary.



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