Howland fumbles costly as Cardinals rumble
The Cardinals forced three Tiger turnovers in a23-8 Metro AthleticConference victory.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CANFIELD -- Meet Canfield High football coach Mike Pavlansky -- good coach, family man and artful dodger.
While still basking in the glow of the Cardinals' 23-8 win over visiting Howland Friday night -- and a hug and kiss from his wife -- Pavlansky was asked whether he's looking forward to a Week 9 game against Poland.
"No, no, no, no," he said. "History lesson No. 1. Last year we lost to Howland [14-13] in overtime and won our next three games. Howland lost their next three games."
The Cardinals (5-0, 1-0) would rather the opposite not happen this year.
Canfield forced three Howland (4-1, 0-1) turnovers and opened a 23-0 third-quarter lead to keep pace with undefeated Poland in the Metro Athletic Conference race.
"We dug ourselves into a hole," Howland coach Dick Angle said. "In the second half we put ourselves into position to come back and maybe by a long shot win the game, but we didn't capitalize on our opportunities."
The Tigers cut their deficit to 23-8 with 9:32 left in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by senior running back Maurice Smith and a two-point conversion run by senior quarterback Chris Settlemire.
Howland twice drove inside the Canfield 25-yard line in the final seven minutes, but couldn't score.
Senior defensive back Tim Dewberry stuffed a fourth-and-3 run by Smith on the Canfield 25 to stop the first drive.
Howland got the ball back minutes later and had a fourth and 6 at the Cardinals' 8, but Canfield senior defensive back Leo Sorice put the game away with a interception in the end zone.
"Our defense played at a very high level tonight," Pavlansky said. "We said all week long that we wanted to shut down their run and get a lead so they would have to pass. They completed some, but we felt good about our chances."
Senior linebacker Mike Turjanica made 16 tackles and forced a Tigers fumble. Senior defensive lineman Dave Byce had two sacks, a tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery for Canfield. Dan Rafferty also recovered a fumble.
Howland entered the game averaging about 300 yards rushing per game. The Cardinals held the Tigers to 144 yards on the ground.
"We feel like we can still improve," Byce said. "Our goal is just to play as a team and take it one game at a time.
"Last year we looked ahead and we lost our last two games."
The Cardinals struck on their first possession on a double reverse. Sorice handed to senior running back Tom Rogers, who handed to junior wideout John Virostko, who hit senior wideout Chase Axelson for a 50-yard touchdown.
Two drives later, Smith fumbled and Byce recovered on the Canfield 40. Seven plays later, senior fullback Bill DeCola ran for a two-yard touchdown to make it 14-0.
Howland running back James Justice fumbled on his own 48 just before the half ended and Canfield kicker Matt Rothbauer hit a 26-yard field goal with 21 seconds left to make it 17-0.
Canfield's final score came with 2:52 left in the third quarter when Sorice hit sophomore wideout Jordan Ferns for a 32-yard touchdown.
Settlemire hit 8-of-14 passes for 165 yards, including three to Steve Boyle for 68 yards, and Justice led all rushers with 10 carries for 81 yards.
"We got beat by a good football team and now we'll see what kind of football team we are," Angle said. "It's easy to play when you're winning. Now we'll see if we can come back."