The sermon in Morgantown was about having a strong defense against the Warriors as East Hardy bellowed out a 21-2 victory at Trinity Christian on Sunday afternoon.
“Focus. I don’t know if it was the change of the week and playing on a Sunday and the uncertainty of the schedule with last minute changes of schedule. I am not going to make excuses. That wasn’t East Hardy Football. We like to play fast out of the gate and we have done that most of the time this season. No discredit to Trinity Christian, but I thought we were definitely better than a no score tie at the end of the first quarter and that did not show and I am not proud of that. If it doesn’t grab your attention now, it isn’t going to,” East Hardy coach Devon Orndorff commented.
“At East Hardy, we focus on defense. That is our heart and soul and we know we can fall back on our defense in times we struggle like offensively today in the first quarter. We hang our hat on our defense today. It’s invaluable today and I’m greatly appreciative of that [younger kids playing time]. I am happy with a win. A win is a win, it is worth the same amount in the ratings. We played some East Hardy Football in spurts today. We hang our hat on not only defensive stops, but defensive scores and special teams big plays. I have to think about back four years for a blocked punt retuned for a touchdown. We loved that, we teach that, we rep that and it just hasn’t fallen that way until today. It is so exciting to see somebody execute that and be successful scoring for us in a 14 point game, so that was a huge play for us at the time.”
Both teams went scoreless in the first quarter of action as the defenses kept the end zones quiet including an interception by Trinity Christian’s Levi Teets on a deep pass by Christian Dove intended for Noah Lang with just two minutes left in the opening frame.[private]
After a tackle for loss by Dove and Andrew Tharp against the Warriors’ Teets, James Fortney-Garbart made a catch for eight yards and an offsides created a first down to end the first period.
A jarring hit by East Hardy’s Erik Flynn on Trinity Christian’s Calvin Blunt caused a fumble which the Warriors managed to recover.
Dove knocked down a pass attempt by Trinity Christian’s Andrew Boczek, but there was a roughing the quarterback penalty assessed on the sequence converting the third down just beyond midfield.
East Hardy’s Dale Hockman and Mason Miller made a tackle for a loss on Teets.
Riley Mongold forced Boczek out of the pocket and out of bounds on a run yard chase.
Two plays late on fourth down and 11, the Warriors decided to go for it and Flynn joined Hockman for a sack.
The Cougars took over on downs at the Trinity Christian 42-yard line and Alex Miller gained a first down on a 15-yard run.
Two penalties backed up East Hardy to the 41-yard line and the drive came to a halt with a fake punt on fourth down and super long (24 yards) as Brayden Ritchie managed to add about a dozen yards.
A poor snap resulted in a fumble with the Warriors quarterback collecting the loose ball and chased out of bounds for a 13-yard loss at the 19-yard line setting up third down and long.
Two plays later, Trinity Christian punted the ball with the Cougars starting at the Warriors 33-yard line.
Miller made some moves cutting back and forth and was finally tripped up by Carmello Kniska for dive to the three yard line capping off a 30-yard play for East Hardy.
Dove handed the ball off to Miller on the ensuing play and he hit pay dirt and Noah Lang added the extra point giving the Cougars a 7-nil edge with 5:01 left in the second quarter.
East Hardy’s Ryan Fishel stripped the ball during the kickoff, but the Warriors managed to recover the fumble at the 16-yard line.
Tackles for loss by Cougars defenders Dayton Miller, Hockman, Flynn and Ritchie sent Trinity Christian backpedaling to the 11-yard line.
Boczek scrambled for about 17 yards, but the Warriors still faced fourth down and two yards.
Trinity Christian attempted a fake punt and East Hardy’s Andrew Tharp made an ankle tackle tugging at Ben Lohmann’s sock to deny advancement in the backfield as the Cougars took over at the 13-yard line.
On third play of the following series, East Hardy’s Mason Miller made a ten yard touchdown shuttle run at the 1:24 mark and Lang’s kick created a 14-0 advantage.
Trinity Christian failed to generate a first down with stops by Flynn, Dayton Miller and Alex Miller plus an offensive infraction leading to a punt.
The Warriors punt attempt was blocked by Tharp, who scooped up the ball and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown with 47 seconds to go in the first half and Lang’s kick extended the lead to 21-0 which was carried into halftime.
Opening the third quarter, East Hardy’s Brayden Ritchie grabbed a handful of Trinity Christian’s Calvin Blunt’s jersey and spun him backwards into the backfield for a five yard loss after a catch.
After a couple penalties in both directions and a short pass, East Hardy’s Brandon Jones made a diving interception at the 44-yard line.
Dove connected with Tharp for a 37-yard pass play into the red zone for the Cougars.
Tharp snatched another reception and did a spinning move to the six yard line where Blunt and Finn Sinclair made the stop for the Warriors.
A pass to Lang lost a couple of yards, then two circus style catch attempts were thwarted and Miller was tackled on fourth down as Trinity Christian made the goal line stand at the three yard line with 4:32 left in the third stanza.
“My young guys showed a lot of heart today and really fought back out there. We will continue to grow and sometimes it is good to have the bad taste of a loss in your mouth throughout the week. East Hardy has numbers and has size which we don’t have right now. This is only the second year of the program and East Hardy has been around the block a few times and they are well-coached. They have big boys and played good. I am proud of our guys. We are a bit undersized, but I am proud of the effort that they gave. We stuck in there like a good boxer should,” Trinity Christian coach Christopher Simpson remarked.
East Hardy brought in substitutions to provide more experience for the younger pride of Cougars.
East Hardy’s Matthew Harman and Justin Parker made tackles, while Bryce Tharp and Gabe Henderson deflected passes.
Trinity Christian quarterback James Fortney-Garbart eluded the initial backfield tackle attempt by East Hardy’s James Shipe, but Henderson was able to grab Fortney-Garbart long enough for Shipe to return to the scene for the final tackle forcing a punt.
The rain was coming down steady at this point and three plays later, Trinity Christian’s Finn Sinclair made an interception off the pass attempt from East Hardy’s Damien Dellinger with a minute and change remaining in the third quarter.
Starting the fourth quarter, a huge hit on the Warriors quarterback during a pass resulted in a fumble recovered by East Hardy’s Matthew Harman.
On third down, the Cougars fumbled the ball near midfield on a spin move by Damian Iman surrounded by the Warriors making the recovery.
Trinity Christian’s Levi Teets moved the chains on a 14-yard catch to the 26-yard line.
The Warriors converted a fourth down and three on a keeper by Boczek carrying the ball 13 yards into the red zone at the eight yard line where East Hardy’s Josh Hahn made the stop.
East Hardy’s Mason Miller and Gabe Henderson slammed into Boczek just as he released the ball.
Trinity Christian was denied a touchdown on third down as Mario Combs leapt up for the Cougars interception.
The Warriors pushed the line of scrimmage back defensively as East Hardy’s Tyler Tarallo was tackled for losses before being taken down in the end zone for a Trinity Christian safety with 2:31 on the clock as the Cougars shutout was denied, 21-2.
East Hardy improved to 4-1 overall this season with the win over the Warriors (0-2) on Sunday afternoon as the sermon of defense was applied in Morgantown.[/private]
The Cougars have no game this Friday. The next game is at home on October 23 against Pendleton County.