The Cardinals could stop Canton South's big play offense either.
BY ERIC HAMILTON
CANTON -- With only two starters returning on defense, Canfield High coach Mike Pavlansky knew it would take a while for the unit to get things together.
What he found out Friday night against Canton South is that it will take longer than two weeks.
Missed tackles, penalties and the inability to stop the Wildcats' big-play offense, proved to be Canfield's downfall.
Canfield struggled to adjust to the Wildcats' spread offense, which employed four and five receiver sets in its no huddle offense.
South's short passing game and smash mouth running game kept the Cardinals off balance and helped the Wildcats control the clock.
In the end, that all added up to Canfield's first loss of the season, as Canton South (1-1) rallied for 27-17 victory.
"South is a good football team," said Pavlansky. "We knew coming in that we had to stop their big plays and we didn't do that. We couldn't keep our defense off the field and South made the plays they needed to.
"We're a young defense, and people forget that. We just have to grow from this loss and get after it because it won't get any easier from here on out."
Stayed in the game
Despite its defensive struggles, Canfield stayed in the game and held a 17-14 advantage late in the third quarter. But the offense stalled in the second half and South scored on two long runs by Devoe Torrence to rally.
South took advantage of two pass interference penalties on Canfield to regain the lead in the third period. With the Wildcats facing a fourth-and-15 at the Canfield 22, the Cards were whistled for their second pass interference infraction of the drive.
On the next play, Torrence broke loose for an 11-yard touchdown to put South ahead 20-17 with 2:48 left in the third quarter.
Mistakes prove costly
Canfield's offense showed signs of life in the fourth quarter, but a pair of mistakes proved costly. With 6:02 left in the contest, South intercepted a Mark Carrocce pass and set up at the Cards 21.
On the very next play, Torrence broke loose for a 21-yard scoring jaunt to seal the deal.
Down 10 points with six minutes to go, the Cards drove to the South 22. But the Wildcats' defense delivered another interception to deny Canfield its last scoring opportunity.
"Turnovers are drive killers," said Pavlansky. "We just didn't execute offensively in the second half and it showed on the scoreboard because we were shut out."