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STEEL VALLEY CONFERENCE Harding's defense tames Mooney



Published: Sat, September 14, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Raiders rolled up 400 yards of offense in the 42-0 victory.

By CHUCK HOUSTEAU

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

WARREN -- Numbers don't lie.

The Warren Harding Raiders lived up to their number one ranking in the state's Division I high school rankings with a convincing 42-0 victory Friday over Steel Valley Conference rival Cardinal Mooney.

The win was the Raiders' 17th consecutive victory at Warren's Mollenkopf Stadium and the statistics were impressive.

Harding's defense forced the Cardinals to punt nine times and pressured the visitors into turnovers in their only other two possessions.

Mooney managed just 41 yards of offense and made two first downs.

In the second half, the Cards never ventured past their own 32-yard line.

"It was a solid defensive performance," Harding coach Thom McDaniels said. "Their style presents a unique problem in that you almost have to play a goal line defense against them in the middle of the field.

"That can be scary, but tonight we were able to shut Mooney down," McDaniels said.

Good offense, too

Offensively, the Raiders amassed nearly 400 yards of offense and scored seven touchdowns.

Six different players were involved in the scoring plays as the Raiders displayed a versatile offense that kept the Cardinals off balanced all night.

Harding's two quarterbacks, Mike Phillips and Mike Kokal threw for 142 yards and two touchdowns while eight different running backs rushed for 243 yards.

Despite the statistical mismatch, the Cardinals gave Harding a tough contest into the second quarter.

Mooney had the first score of the game, a 75-yard punt return by Brad Handel, nullified by a penalty early in the second quarter.

Taking advantage

The Raiders got going following a tipped interception by Anthony Hoke that gave Harding the ball at Mooney's 20-yard line.

Four plays later, Stefon Alexander scored on a 1-yard run.

Following a Cardinal punt, Prescott Burgess ignited the offense with a stunning 35-yard catch and run of a Phillips pass after bouncing off an open field tackle by a Mooney defender.

Burgess, who has been plagued with a hand injury was glad to finally get a pass thrown his way.

"My hand's feeling good and I'm looking to make more plays like that," Burgess said. "Anytime you can make a play like that to get the team going, it feels good."

After that, Harding got scores on a Kokal to Jonte Stroud 4-yard pass and Richard Davis' runs of 18 and 36 yards.

Davis was the game's leading rusher with 137 yards in 15 carries. Last week against Strongsville, the junior gained 168 yards rushing in only his first season of varsity action.

Stroud closed out the scoring with a 27-yard run.




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