The Bobcat defense forced four turnovers by Parkersburg South and each one led to a score – including two fumbles returned for touchdowns – as CHS improved its record to 2-1.
“We were pretty physical defensively and created some opportunities that helped our offense out tonight,” Cambridge coach Rick Goodrich said. “We played good team defense. We've been preaching that it doesn't matter who's on the field, we're playing for the uniform.”
Goodrich & Co. also got another fine running effort from sophomore tailback Tyler Hardesty. Forced into full-time duty as senior Chad Teague recovers from a high ankle sprain, Hardesty posted his second straight 100-yard rushing effort by going for 161 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
“He did a nice job stepping up on both sides of the ball,” Goodrich said of Hardesty. “Most sophomores are playing on Saturday mornings (junior-varsity games), but he's getting stronger and understanding more and more each week.”
Cambridge broke on top early, taking advantage of an interception by sophomore Zach Freeman on Parkersburg South's fourth play from scrimmage.
The 'Cats put together a six-play, 40-yard scoring drive which featured pass completions of 16 and 22 yards from senior Vince Daugherty to senior Trevor Markley, but it was Hardesty who got the touchdown on a four-yard run off the right side.
Junior Nick Liptak added the extra point, giving Cambridge a 7-0 lead at the 8:12 mark of the first quarter.
The Bobcats' next score came on a quick three-play, 81-yard series featuring a 75-yard scamper by Hardesty. Daugherty got the TD on a one-yard sneak, with Liptak's PAT widening the gap to 14-0 with 6:32 remaining in the second quarter.
Cambridge was back in the endzone in a hurry as senior linebacker Kirk Wetherell gathered in a Patriot fumble at the 27 yard line and rambled in for the Bobcats' third TD of the night. Liptak's conversion upped the ante to 21-0 with 6:07 left in the half.
Parkersburg South finally got on the scoreboard in the final seconds of the half with a 10-play, 51-yard drive that ended with a one-yard run by sophomore back Hunter Ferguson. Soph Chase Fieler added the PAT to cut Cambridge's halftime lead to 21-7.
A fumble recovery by Freeman and the ensuing return to the South 21-yard line set up Cambridge's next TD, a three-yarder by Hardesty who backed his way into the endzone. Liptak's fourth PAT made it 28-7 with 8:13 left in round three.
Another defensive TD followed on South's next snap as junior Taylor Leppla scooped up a loose ball and ran 11 yards to paydirt, with Liptak again converting for a 35-7 spread with 8:02 on the third quarter clock.
The 'Cats tacked on one more tally for good measure with 7:30 remaining in the contest on a two-yard run by junior back P.J. Poole. Freshman Tanner Balik added the point-after kick to close the scoring.
Cambridge closed with 353 total yards, including 245 rushing and 108 passing. Poole picked up 73 yards on just five carries in support of Hardesty, while Daugherty finished five-of-seven through the air.
South (0-3) managed just 116 net yards, with 68 on the ground and 47 through the air. Cory Hamilton had 64 rushing on seven attempts and Ferguson added 49 on 15 tries. QB Zachary McMullen was 5-of-11 passing, with Hamilton catching four balls for 41 yards.
“Our young kids are getting better each week,” Goodrich related, “but we still have to iron out our mistakes. You can't do those things against the good teams in the ECOL…it's going to come back to haunt us.”
Goodrich is looking forward to the start of the seven-week run of ECOL games.
“We need to get healthy and get ready to go,” he said. “Next week, we start defense of our (ECOL) championship.”