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Cards stop Spartans at home, 24-20

Hope to capture win against AAC?foe Niles

October 6, 2016
By Nik Zirounis - Town Crier correspondent , The Town Crier

Hanging over the heads of the Canfield High School football team last weekend was the fact that the school had never upended crosstown rival Boardman on the football field.

That was a burden head coach Mike Pavlansky didn't want his kids to worry about in the week leading up to the game. In fact, the longtime Canfield leader tried his best to ignore that statistic.

"We don't make a big deal about things like that," Pavlansky said. "We make a big deal out of improving every week."

Article Photos

Town Crier / Cindy DeRose
Canfield senior Duncan DiGiacomo (19) avoids a tackle from Boardman senior Jason Clinkscale (3). The Cardinals won their homecoming game against the Spartans, 24-20, and are preparing to battle All-American Conference foe Niles Friday.

Well, Pavlansky got his wish. One week after flailing on the field at Struthers, his boys bounced back to stop the Spartans, 24-20. Making the win even sweeter was that it came in front of a full house on Canfield's homecoming night.

"The kids played hard; they deserved (the win)," Pavlansky said. "It was a big night for us."

Quarterback Jake Cummings got the night started for Canfield with a 15-yard touchdown run midway through the opening quarter. That score staked the Cardinals to a 7-0 lead.

Boardman battled back with a pair of rushing touchdowns of its own to take the lead in the second period, but Canfield's Paul Brienz capped a scoring drive with a 21-yard run, making the score 14-13 in favor of the home team with just 49 seconds left in the half.

Pavlansky and his staff would have been satisfied with the slim lead at intermission, but the whole Canfield clan received a homecoming gift a few seconds later when Breinz picked off Boardman quarterback Mike O'Horo on the Spartans' ensuing drive, setting the Cardinals up deep inside Spartan territory.

A 38-yard field goal by Sam Accordino as the halftime gun sounded pushed Canfield's lead to 17-13. That was a huge piece of momentum in the Cardinals' pocket.

Almost the entire third quarter was silent until Boardman's Koby Adu-Poku pushed himself into the end zone from 2 yards away, sending the Spartans back into the lead.

However, Canfield stole the lead for good on a drive that started in the third quarter and finished a few minutes into the fourth. The scoring march ended when Cummings ran into the end zone from 10 yards away. The quarterback ended the night with nearly 70 yards rushing and two scores. Brienz topped 100 yards on the ground.

Ahead by one score, Canfield needed to stifle the Spartans for nine more minutes before it could completely call this homecoming night a success. With the Spartans driving for what could have been another go-ahead score, a fumbled hand off was recovered by the opportunistic Canfield defense. It was the third turnover forced by Canfield's defense during the game.

The defense's energy showcased the determination Pavlansky's group played with last Friday.

"Our kids played exceptionally well for 48 minutes," the coach said. "I'm proud of their effort all week (in preparation for Friday's game)."

Another large effort will be needed if the 4-2 Cardinals are to capture their second win in a row. Canfield travels Friday to Trumbull County to rekindle relations with the Niles Red Dragons.

These two clubs have played a few barnburners in recent years, and the possibility of that happening again this week is high.

"We've played some great games," Pavlansky said. "(Niles) stubbed their toes the last couple of weeks, but they have some Division I athletes at receiver and are talented at other positions. We have to be ready to play."

The Red Dragons were dumped by Hubbard, 35-21, in Week 6 to fall to 3-3 overall. Niles is also 1-1 in the All-American Conference. Canfield, conversely, has yet to play a conference match, which will change the rest of the schedule.

"This will be the first of four league games in a row," Pavlansky said. "Our goal at the beginning of the season was to defend our league crown, so it all starts this week."



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