INDEPENDENCE—Cardinal spoiled Independence’s homecoming and defeated the Blue Devils for the first time since 2007 on Friday at Alumni Field.
The Huskies pulled away from the Blue Devils in the second half of a 34-22 victory.
“Independence always plays tough,” said Cardinal head coach Chris Perrotti. “But we came out in the second half and played Cardinal football. and that shows the strength, the mentality, of our team.”
After the two teams exchanged punts to get things started, it was the Huskies who would strike first when Kyle Sinclair broke the plane and the scoring drought, taking it in from eight yards out on the ground.
The score would remain 7-0 through the rest of the first quarter, but things would change early in the second. With the Blue Devils moving the ball downfield, Neil Lucariello came up with the interception and returned it to the Independence 10-yard line.
Logan Strever converted the turnover into a six-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 Husky lead.
Independence responded with a long Rocco Ressler kickoff return and Dom Narduzzi threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Jack Korinek that cut Cardinal’s lead to 14-6.
Ronin Tschetter and Beck Crist recorded a third-down sack and Crist scooped up a blocked punt and returned it for a touchdown that pulled the Blue Devils to within 14-13.
Korinek then picked off a pass and booted a 43-yard field goal to give Independence its first lead of the game, 16-14.
“They fought,” said Independence head coach Rick Adams. “We had the lead going into halftime, and it’s our job as coaches to keep that momentum.”
Cardinal would get off to a quick start in the second half.
After forcing the three-and-out, Strever would again take to the ground, picking up a big gain with his legs and setting up a 30-yard field goal that would reclaim a 17-16 lead for the Huskies.
The Huskies added to that lead when Reece Soltis jumped a screen pass and returned it for a touchdown and a 24-16 Cardinal lead with 7:21 left in the third quarter.
After Independence failed to convert a fake punt, Cardinal used the short field and tacked on a 27-yard field goal that extended its lead to 27-16.
“Just punt the ball and have confidence in our guys to get the stop,” Coach Adams said in hindsight after the game. “You’re trying to make that momentum-changing call that’s going to get things turned around, and it just wasn’t there.”
Early in the fourth with Independence threatening to score, Troy Domen would get the Huskies defense off the field with a one-handed interception in the end zone, his second pick of the day.
The following Cardinal drive would see them find success on the ground. Again, a long keeper from Strever would set up the Huskies in scoring position. A 25-yard run from Sinclair would notch his second touchdown and a 34-16 score.
Independence continued to battle and would string together a nice drive after a big return from Charlie Puklavec would set them up past midfield. However, the Cardinals would come up with another interception in the end zone courtesy of Soltis.
“Since I’ve taken over the job, it’s always been about communication on the defensive side,” Coach Perrotti said of the defensive takeaways. “When teams do not communicate, they don’t make plays the way that we made plays.”
The interception would come as the fifth for the Cardinal defense on the night. Soltis would join Domen with both players having two picks in the effort.
On the ensuing drive, a fumbled Cardinal snap would be scooped up by Tschetter and returned for a touchdown to bring the score to 34-22. However, it would come a little too late as Cardinal would run out the clock on their next possession.
“The kids fight,” Coach Adams said of his team. “They play hard and that’s what’s frustrating. I feel like I let them down because they fought hard.”
The win is the second in two weeks for Cardinal and brings them back to .500 on the year. The Huskies will look to continue this recent trend next week at Berkshire. As for Independence, the Blue Devils will look to get in the win column next week at Harvey.