Youngstown East played its first ever football game Thursday against Canfield. The Panthers debut was spoiled as they dropped a 19-8 decision to the host Cardinals. Canfield used a combination of stingy defense and great field position in the second half to overcome an 8-7 halftime deficit and surge to the win.
Youngstown East played its first ever football game Thursday against Canfield. The Panthers debut was spoiled as they managed just 77 yards of total offense in a 19-8 loss to the Cardinals.
Canfield used a combination of stingy defense and great field position in the second half to overcome an 8-7 halftime deficit and surge to the win. The Cards put up two second half touchdowns, starting each drive on East’s half of the field.
After putting itself in a hole due to mistakes in the first half, Canfield coach Mike Pavlansky was happy to see his team get refocused in the second.
“We didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot in the second half,” Pavlansky said. “We didn’t have a safety or a turnover for a touchdown. Our defense played lights out, and our offense did just enough to get the win.”
The Cardinals overcame several mistakes in the first half that started on their first offensive series. After going three and out and ready to punt, the snap sailed over the head of punter Pat Sankovic leading to a blocked kick that set up the Panthers on Canfield’s 32 yard line. The Cardinal defense was able to hold East to a turnover on downs. When Canfield got the ball back, it went on the game’s first scoring drive lead by senior leader, quarterback Mark Carrocce.
Carrocce lead the team on a 10-play, 70-yard drive that he capped with a 14-yard run for the first touchdown of 2007. However, the key on the drive came courtesy of Carrocce’s arm. With his team facing a third and nine, Carrocce connected with Neil Sorice on a 23 yard pass to the East 15. Two plays later, Carrocce found the end zone to put Canfield up 7-0.
Carrocce finished the game with 54 yards rushing on 17 carries and two touchdowns, and was 6-for-7 for 76 yards passing before leaving the game in the third quarter with a hip pointer. Pavlansky says he got exactly what he expects out of his QB.
“He’s our senior leader,” Pavlansky said. “That’s what we need from our senior leader, our senior captain. I’m very proud of what he did in our home opener.
In the second quarter, mistakes came back to hurt the Cardinals to put them in a hole. Backed up deep in their own end, for the second straight punt attempt, the snap sailed off into the night. This time the ball went out of the end zone for a safety.
On its next possession, an option play for Canfield ended in disaster, as running back Christian Smith couldn’t hold on to the pitch and Gary Thorton scooped it up for East and went 45 yards for a touchdown, giving the Panthers an 8-7 lead that they took into halftime.
When the Cardinals came out for the second half, they left the sloppy play in the locker room and went back to business. Their stingy defense was able to get them the ball to start on East’s 49 yard line. Once again, Carrocce led his team on a 10-play drive, and once again, he turned a third and long situation into a long pass play. This time he hit Dan Banna for a 30-yard gain to the 10 yard line. Three plays later Carrocce found the end zone from two yards out for his second score of the night. However he would leave the game after this with a hip pointer.
The next time Canfield got the ball back, they were again staring in East’s territory, this time on the Panther 42. Backup quarterback Adam Muth efficiently took the team down to the end zone on a four-play drive that he finished off with a 13 yard run to give the Cardinals a 19-8 lead.
East’s Sal Battles was held in check all night with just 17 yards rushing on 15 carries, and was 2-of-8 passing for 17 yards.
Canfield will host Canton South next Friday at Cardinal Stadium, while East will travel to play Austintown Fitch.