Sometimes, you just have to take matters into your own hands. And that’s exactly what Weston Stafford did on Friday night.
Stafford ran for 96 yards, caught a 52-yard touchdown pass, ran for another score and added two interceptions on defense as the Cambridge Springs Blue Devils beat Maplewood, 14-0, in a chilly Region 2 game at Maplewood High School Field.
“He’s definitely a game-changer,” Devils’ coach Clint Rauscher said of Stafford, who leads the team in points scored this season. “If we have the opportunity to get him out there in open field, there is a good chance he’s going (to score).”
Stafford entered the game with 10 touchdowns, two of which came via kick returns. But he decided to go a different route for score No. 11.
After a defensive-minded first quarter with no scoring, the Tigers backed the Devils into a fourth-and-12 situation at midfield. It was decision time for the coaching staff. Play it safe and attempt to pin the Tigers back, or go for it and keep the ball.
After the game, Rauscher said there was no way he was going to punt in that situation.
Quarterback Shawn Reynolds took the snap from center, dropped three or four steps and dumped the ball to Stafford, who had a wall of blockers in front of him. He avoided a couple would-be tacklers and scampered 52 yards for the Devils’ first score with 7:47 left in the first half.
“Weston is pretty much my go-to-guy,” said Reynolds, who was surgical through the air, completing 4 of 6 passes for 41 yards and no interceptions. “He’s my first look, and if he’s not open I’m probably going to run it. But we’ve had success on that screen in the past.”
Meanwhile, the Cambridge defense was making life miserable for the Maplewood offense. On 20 offensive plays in the opening 24 minutes, the Tigers (1-7, 1-5 Region 2) gained just 38 yards, while the Devils came up with a key sack that sent QB Nate Klingler for a loss of 15 yards to stymie a solid drive.
“We were just executing (on Friday),” said Stafford, who also plays linebacker for the Devils, who have won three of their last four games. “We practiced hard all week and we just needed to execute.”
The Devils’ ball-hawking defense set up Stafford’s second score of the night.
On the first play of the second half, Maplewood running back Kevin Coatoam fumbled the pigskin and Spa recovered the miscue on its own 40-yard line. It was Coatoam’s only blemish in a game where he was the Tigers’ main weapon. He carried the ball 19 times for 53 yards and caught a 10-yard pass.
From there, Cambridge ran the ball 11 straight times, capped off by a one-yard plunge from Stafford with 6:11 left in the third quarter. On the drive, Stafford ran the ball eight times for 34 yards.
While the Maplewood defense was looking for an answer on how to stop Stafford, the senior made sure the Tigers’ offense felt his presence.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Stafford dropped into coverage, got a read on Klingler and intercepted a pass and returned it from midfield for what appeared to be his third score of the game. But an illegal block in the back negated the touchdown.
After Cambridge couldn’t capitalize, Klingler began another drive deep in his own territory. Another pass — same result. Stafford stepped in front of the receiver and added interception No. 2 to his stat sheet.
“I just got lucky on those,” Stafford said.
From there, the Devils went into victory formation, kneeled twice and once again found themselves in the win category.
After staring the season 0-4, Cambridge (3-5, 3-4 Region 2) has been on the right side of the scoreboard more often than not. Aside from a 41-0 loss to Region 2-leading Youngsville a week ago, the Blue Devils had won two in a row — 26-12 over Union City and 12-7 over Eisenhower — and appear to finding their groove in the final stretch of the season.
Cambridge totaled 12 first downs, 226 total yards and the defense gave up a mere 90 on Friday. The only negative came in the penalty department. Spa was whistled for eight infractions for 55 yards.
But at the end of the day, Rauscher will take the good with the bad.
“We’re definitely getting better,” he said. “If we could have gotten rid of some of the mental errors, I think we could have been in control a little sooner. But, physically we’re starting to play much better. And we’re feeling pretty good about that.”