This Cochranton football team just might be for real.
Two games into the 2012 season, and the new-look Cardinals have yet to be challenged.
A week ago, they opened the year with a 50-19 romp over Class AA Seneca. Then Friday night they kicked off Region 2 play with a 49-14 victory over Cambridge Springs.
Now, the Cards get a chance to answer any lingering questions fans might have. Next week the team takes on perennial Region 2 favorite Mercyhurst Prep.
“It feels good (to be 2-0),” said Cochranton quarterback Chad Eisenhooth. “But we’re looking forward to Mercyhurst Prep. This was just a stepping stone to Mercyhurst Prep. We’re going on a playoff run. We’ve just got to keep going.”
Eisenhooth played an enormous role in the Cardinals’ win last night. He had 11 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown (a four-yarder in the third quarter that got the mercy clock running). And he was 9-for-18 for 192 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
“Chad Eisenhooth started out ...” said Cochranton head coach Nate Liberty before pausing and shrugging “... I got on him. And he came back out as the leader that I knew he was. And he had one heck of a game.”
Eisenhooth completed the first pass he attempted — a 12-yarder to Garrett Adams. Yet, as the Cardinals reached the red zone on their opening drive, Eisenhooth went 0-for-4 through the air.
But Eisenhooth bounced back, completing his next four tries. That included a 36-yard pass to Jamar Moody on a third-and-long attempt, which set up an eight-yard touchdown run by Austin Andrews on the next play. And the passing streak also included a 76-yard touchdown strike to Tyler Buchan that put the Cards ahead 28-6 early in the second quarter.
“The receivers did great,” Liberty said. “And I’m proud of Tyler Buchan, who stepped in for Andrews on offense. We put him out there and we haven’t thrown a pass to him yet, and he runs a fly bomb.
“Coach (Bill) Hoy called that play with (Joe) Hruska, and said ‘Believe in Buchan.’ And he pulled it through”
Buchan had two catches for 77 yards on the night.
Eisenhooth ended the half by hitting a wide-open Adams in the end zone on a 14-yard touchdown pass. The Redbirds went into the break leading 36-6.
“Some of my throws weren’t on,” said Eisenhooth. “But (the receivers) backed me up with that. I have some really nice receivers ... And I scrambled only one time. Our O-line definitely out-matched (Cambridge) tonight. I had lots of time. That’s what led to all my passing yards.”
As well as Eisenhooth played offensively, Cochranton’s defensive unit was just as good. The squad grabbed five turnovers, scored two touchdowns (even had a third called back) and held Cambridge to 128 yards and seven first downs.
“Coach (Mike) Goss did an excellent job,” said Liberty. “That’s two games in a row where our defense was on top of its game.”
After Cochranton’s opening drive stalled in the red zone, Cambridge Springs went three-and-out and was backed up against its own goal line. Quentin Stafford was in the end zone to punt, but the ball got away from him. Eisenhooth hopped on it, putting Cochranton’s first points on the board.
Cambridge Springs answered on its next drive when quarterback Devin Walker delivered a pass to Colton Noble down the right sideline, and Noble took it 43 yards for the score.
However, the Blue Devils (1-1, 0-1 Region 2) wouldn’t get back into the end zone until the fourth quarter when Noble broke off an 85-yard kickoff return.
In the meantime, Cochranton’s defense dominated.
Cambridge Springs had its second offensive possession halted when Jesse Staudt stepped in front of a short out pass from Walker, and returned it 40 yards for the defense’s second touchdown of the game.
And in the third quarter, Brad Carlini grabbed a fumble and to it 75 yards into the end zone. The score was called back due to an illegal block. But the Cards maintained possession.
“(Cochranton) was very physical,” said Cambridge Springs coach Clint Rauscher. “And they executed. They out-physicaled us and they out-executed us in every phase of the game. They did a lot of things right.”
Notes: Cochranton finished with 416 yards of offense. Andrews led the team rushing with 12 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown. Nathan Wigton added 40 yards on six carries, including a 10-yard touchdown run during JV time. Adams finished the night with four receptions for 54 yards. Moody caught two passes for 45 yards ... Some of Cochranton’s offensive yards were boosted by the Cards backing up on a dozen penalties for 90 yards. “Next week is a totally different ball game,” said Liberty. “If we’re not mentally tough and focused next week, it’s going to be a very different score.” ... For Cambridge Springs, Noble finished the game with 65 yards on 16 carries and had three receptions for 38 yards. Walker was 7-for-13 for 60 yards passing.