Running past WGH
Mooney blocks extra point for win, rushes for more than 300 yards
WARREN — The game seemingly was decided by a blocked extra point, but in reality, it was decided at the line of scrimmage.
Cardinal Mooney handed Warren G. Harding its first loss of the season, winning, 35-34, when Antonio Page blocked Dominic Van Winkle’s extra point attempt with 1:02 remaining in the game.
“We had talked all week about the type of game it was going to be and the type of team we were playing and the athletes on the field, you knew there were going to be big plays. There’s no secret to that,” Mooney coach P.J. Fecko said. “We had to stress all week that you have to weather the storm. Momentum is going to change, it’s going to swing back and forth, but you have to weather the storm and you have to figure a way to get the momentum back on your side. I think our guys did a pretty good job of that this evening.”
Mooney (5-2) rushed for 329 yards in the game as the three-headed monster of Page (19-131), Jaylen Hewlett (15-108) and Ray Anderson (17-80) wore down the Raider defense.
“They just knocked us off the ball. It’s real simple, they just knocked us off the line of scrimmage,” Harding coach Steve Arnold said. “They were able to establish the line of scrimmage, and once you do that you’re in business. They ran for over 300 yards and you don’t win many games when the opposing team runs for 300-plus yards.”
The Raiders were concerned about opponents trying to play physical and pound the ball down the field.
“I’ve stated it, this was our concern coming in. We knew during two-a-days, during the course of the season that this would be kind of the formula to maybe beat us. But we were still right there,” Arnold said. “If we don’t have a couple plays that we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot, and if we make the extra point, we tie it up.”
The Raiders (7-1), committed two big turnovers in the first half that kept them in the hole throughout. Mooney scored on the second play from scrimmage in the game when Hewlett ran 59 yards right up the middle for a touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, Marlin Richardson fumbled and the Cardinals’ Brent Weaver recovered at the 25. Four plays later Page scored from 8 yards out and Mooney led 14-0 less than three minutes into the game.
Harding got on the board late in the first quarter when Desemen Douglas ran 18 yards for a score. Mooney followed with a 12-play drive that ate up more than half of the second quarter. Page scored from 2 yards out to make it 21-7 at the 6:41 mark.
The Raiders retaliated three plays later when Bowden hit Jalen Hooks down the left sideline for a 65-yard touchdown. Bowden tied the game at the 2:38 mark when he scored on a 43-yard scamper. The senior quarterback started right on the play and cut back across the field on the way to the end zone.
When Mooney looked as if it was content to go into the locker room tied, Page broke out of a scrum of defenders and raced 54 yards to the Harding 12. Anderson tallied from 8 yards out with 34 seconds remaining.
Disaster then struck for Harding. Bowden looked to throw a bubble screen, but held up and the ball slipped out of his hand and went behind him, making it a backwards pass, not an incompletion. Hewlett picked up the loose ball at about the 31 and ran in, putting the Cardinals ahead, 35-21, at halftime. Who knew that Paul Graziano’s fifth extra point of the night was going to decide the game.
“I’m really proud of the way our guys just battled. They dug down, they believed. It’s been like that all season,” Fecko said. “Our seniors have done a great job creating a bond with the whole team from seniors down to freshmen. It’s really a tribute to those guys going out there and getting it done.”
Harding cut its deficit to seven on the first possession of the second half, set up when Richardson returned the kickoff from the 19 to the Mooney 24. Bowden scored on a 2-yard run.
Cardinal Mooney got its running game going again and had two long possessions, though neither resulted in points. One ended on downs and the other on a fumble by Anderson recovered by Jauton Lee.
“We made some adjustments at the half and we had a chance to catch our breath a little bit, we’ve got a lot of two-way players,” Fecko said. “We made a few adjustments here and there with different sets and we were able to move it. Unfortunately, we had the turnover down here. We were grinding it out pretty good, eating clock, but we weren’t able to finish.”
The Mooney defense was able to hold off the Raiders on two possessions and the game was still 35-28 when Harding took over at its 29 with 2:48 remaining.
A 34-yard run by Bowden on third-and-10 put Harding at the Mooney 26 at the 1:56 mark. Three plays later he connected with Richardson on a slant pass over the middle and it turned into a 23-yard scoring play.
Page’s blocked kick followed, and once Mooney recovered Harding’s onside kick, the Cardinals were able to run out the clock.
“We had contemplated going for two, but Lynn was gassed,” Arnold said. “He was on a knee and we didn’t have a timeout to discuss the two-point play. We had talked about it during the course of the drive, but we really couldn’t settle on it because we were still trying to tie the game up.”
Both teams control their own destiny as far as making the playoffs, according to the web site joeeitel.com. For the Raiders, missing a chance for an undefeated season stings.
“Obviously, it was lingering out there, 10-0 was lingering out there,” Arnold said. “But sometimes people say you get that loss and you can move on. You still never want to lose a game, but we move on.
“Obviously we are still going to play the second season, but we’ve got to regroup from this and move on to next week.”