CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) – It isn’t very often that a football team loses the turnover battle but wins the game, but on Friday evening the Central Clarion Wildcats overcame six fumbles, five of them lost, and still came away with a 33-14 victory over Ridgway at Memorial Field at Clarion University.
The Wildcats’ defense helped the turnover bug by limiting the Elkers to just 30 yards rushing for the game.
(Photo by Dave Cyphert/ProPoint Media Photography)
“Coach Louder and the rest of our coaches do a good job preparing our defense each week,” said Central Clarion head coach Dave Eggleton. “Ridgway gives you a lot of different looks and our guys did a good job of recognizing some of that and we were able to limit their big plays.”
After forcing the first of six punts for Ridgway on the opening drive of the game, the Wildcats took over at their own 22.
Eight plays later, seven on the ground, freshman quarterback Jase Ferguson scored on a 12-yard run. Charlie Franchino made the PAT kick for a 7-0 lead at the 7:03 mark of the quarter.
The Elkers gained their initial first down of the game, but still ended up punting the ball back to the Wildcats.
The first of the six fumbles turned out to be costly as Domenic Allegretto picked up the fumble and raced 55 yards for a touchdown. The PAT kick was blocked keeping Central Clarion on top 7-6 with 2:32 to play in the first.
Central Clarion (2-4) took just three plays to respond. After Breckin Rex gained seven yards on first down, the Wildcats lost seven yards when Ferguson recovered a fumble. Ferguson then connected with Ashton Rex on a 70-yard touchdown pass. Franchino made the PAT kick for a 14-6 lead after one quarter.
Central Clarion had a hard time mustering much offense in the second quarter as the Wildcats lost three fumbles while punting on their other two possessions of the quarter.
However, even with all the miscues, Ridgway could only muster one score in the quarter at the 2:31 mark when quarterback Jonathan Hinton connected with Cam Marciniak on a 12-yard touchdown pass. The two also connected on the two-point conversion to tie the game 14-14 at halftime.
“We need to clean those fumbles up moving forward,” said Eggleton. “Some of those were just guys fighting for extra yards, which is hard to fault guys for. However, we do need to do a better job of holding onto the football moving forward.”
Ridgway attempted a 35-yard field goal at the end of the half that sailed wide right.
Central Clarion took the opening kickoff of the second half to take the lead for good. A four-play drive that would be capped off by a 38-yard touchdown pass from Ferguson to Christian Simko. Franchino made the PAT kick for a 21-14 lead at the 10:07 mark of the quarter.
Ridgway would drive from their own 28 to the Wildcats’ 35 before being stopped on downs, turning the ball back to Central Clarion.
The Wildcats would take advantage using eight plays to drive the 65 yards with Ferguson and Simko connecting on their second score of the evening, this time coming from 21 yards out. The kick failed which left the score 27-14 with 3:20 left in the quarter.
Ridgway would use the rest of the quarter and first minute of the fourth quarter to drive from their own 44 to the Central Clarion 11-yard line before being stopped on downs.
Central Clarion would drive from their own 11 to the Ridgway six on a 16-play drive taking over eight minutes off the clock. Although the drive ended in another fumble, it severely hampered any Ridgway comeback attempt.
Four plays after his own fumble, Breckin Rex intercepted a Cameron Larkin pass and returned it 20 yards for the final touchdown of the game with just 16 seconds left in the contest to set the final score.
Rex finished the game with 162 yards rushing on 24 attempts. Ryan Hummell rushed 14 times for 88 yards.
“We showed Breckin some things on film and he was a much better runner tonight,” said Eggleton. “I have to give our O-line credit for a lot of that as well because they were opening holes for our guys all night.”
Ferguson completed 7-of-12 passes for 196 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Simko caught five passes for 114 yards with two scores while Ashton Rex caught two passes for 82 yards with a score.
For Ridgway, Hinton completed 14-of-25 passes for 169 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions before leaving the game with an injury. Cameron Larkin completed 3-of-7 passes for 30 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
“I keep telling our guys that I think we turned a corner in the second half of the St. Mary’s game,” said Eggleton. “If we keep playing like we’ve been and clean up the fumbles I think we can be very competitive the rest of the way.”
Central Clarion will travel to Bradford next Friday.