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Harding blanks Mooney, 27-0

MINERAL RIDGE — Jim Tressel once said, “Any drive that ends with a kick is a good one.”

The legendary YSU and Ohio State football coach meant that his team either scored a touchdown, kicked a field goal, or punted the ball away without turning it over.

When Warren G. Harding and Cardinal Mooney squared off on Saturday, Tressel would have felt right at home, on the sidelines during the first half, as the teams exchanged one punt after the other.

But, it was the Raiders who came away with their third straight victory, scoring 20 second half points to earn a 27-0.

The Cardinals (1-7) got the ball first and punted it away. The Raiders (4-4) put together a good drive, on the ground, but junior quarterback Dalys Jett threw an incomplete pass on 4th and 3.

Mooney got it back and punted again before the two teams exchanged possessions throughout the rest of the first quarter.

“That was our whole gameplan,” Mooney coach Carl Pelini said. “We were going to try to eat up the clock, move the ball on the ground, and try to keep their offense off the field. It’s been like this all year.You hang in there, and hang in there, and the second half it just gets away from you. We’re young. We just have to learn how to finish games.”

Jett tried airing it out with a couple of long-bomb attempts to junior receiver Devin Boss, but the passes fell incomplete and the Raiders punted again. Harding forced another punt, and the scoring got started when senior Johnnie Taylor returned a punt 65 yards for touchdown in the second quarter.

Mooney drove down the field, but decided to go for a short field goal on 4th and 3 from the 5 yard line and a mishandled snap cost the Cardinals a chance at getting on the scoreboard.

Senior Dom Foster caught a 73-yard touchdown pass, to start the third quarter, and the rout was on at 13-0.

“They were trying to slow the game down, and run the football,” Raiders coach Steve Arnold said. “We made a concerted effort, all week, to prepare to stop the run. It kind of takes you out of your rhythm offensively. You can’t get into a mindset where you just want

to score immediately. We made some adjustments at halftime, where we started moving our receivers around more. We made them have to play us in space. We used our athleticism to our advantage, and made some big plays.”

After a Raider fumble, which was recovered by Mooney senior Tyrin Howell, the Cardinals couldn’t get the first downs they needed and the Raiders responded when Jett tossed his second TD pass of the game, a 38 yard strike to Foster and the score was 20-0 at the end of three quarters.

Jett turned on the jets with a shake-and-bake, 8-yard touchdown run to close out the scoring in the fourth.

“I saw the defender in my way,” Jett said. “So, I just tried to make a move and get up field. It was a little up and down at the beginning of the season. Now, I feel like we are on a roll at the end of the season. We’re looking to win these next two games, and move on to the playoffs.”

The Raiders now get ready for a matchup with Chaney next week.

“We just have to take care of ourselves,” Arnold said. “We have to concentrate on Chaney, and continue to build momentum as we move toward the playoffs hopefully.”

sports@tribtoday.com

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