BYESVILLE – After losing 25 seniors from an 11-1 team, the Cambridge Bobcats were told they were going to have a down year. Well, 10 weeks are in the record books and Cambridge’s “rebuilding” year concluded with a 7-3 record and a 35-7 victory over East Central Ohio League rival Meadowbrook in Guernsey County Super Bowl XXXIV on Friday night.
Cambridge head coach Rick Goodrich praised his team for turning in a successful season.
“I’m glad for the kids that they were able to beat Meadowbrook tonight,” Goodrich noted. “I’m really proud of our seniors this year because they were overshadowed by last year’s group. They were told that this was going to be a rebuilding year and would be lucky to win a few games. I’d say 7-3 in a ‘rebuilding’ year…I’ll take that.”
The Bobcats (7-3, 5-2 ECOL) turned a 14-point game into a no-doubter with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Taking over at its own three with 7:09 left in the third frame, the Bobcats proceeded to take 9:08 off of the clock by marching 97 yards in 17 plays. Key plays on the drive included: 12- and 11-yard runs by sophomore Tyler Hardesty, and carries of 14, 13 and seven yards by senior fullback Kirk Wetherell, who polished off the drive with a five-yard TD with 10:01 left in the fourth stanza. Junior Nick Liptak added the extra point for a 28-7 Cambridge lead.
Meadowbrook then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which was recovered by Cambridge. The Bobcats then went 73 yards in nine plays. Senior running back Chad Teague finished the drive with a 35-yard touchdown run with just 4:10 on the clock. Liptak booted the kick for a 35-7 cushion.
“We felt that Meadowbrook was capable of coming back in the second half,” Goodrich noted. “We just wanted to take time off of the clock and keep it away from their offense. In the second half, we just wanted to line up and go at them.
“I was happy with the way Tyler ran the ball. I thought he ran the ball well the last couple of weeks against New Philadelphia and Claymont. He’s competitive and big games bring out the best of players like Tyler. He’s got a couple of good years left in him,” Goodrich added.
The Colts started the game with a promising drive that picked up 32 yards, which included an 11-yard reception and a 14-yard run by junior Josh Quinn. However, on second-and-11, disaster struck and the hosts coughed up the football, which was pounced on by CHS junior Nate McVicker at the 39.
Cambridge didn’t waste the early opportunity. Hardesty ripped off an 11-yard run on first down, moving the chains to the 50. Six consecutive carries by Hardesty netted 22 yards and two more first downs.
Hardesty then gave the ’Cats the early lead as he wiggled out of what seemed to be a sure tackle on the left side and scampered 28 yards to paydirt. Liptak tacked on the extra point, giving the visitors a 7-0 advantage with 6:27 reading on the clock.
Meadowbrook didn’t take long to answer Cambridge’s score. The Colts went four plays in 49 yards that only took 1:26 off of the scoreboard. Senior Cody Fehrman gave MHS great field position after he returned the kickoff 26 yards to the 49.
Facing third-and-seven, junior quarterback Kiefer Watson hooked up with Quinn for a 19-yard pickup. After an offsides call on the Bobcats, Watson then raced around the right end on a “Kiefer Keeper” and used a great fake around the six to reach the end zone. Senior Cameron Fehrman added the point-after, tying the game at 7-7 with 4:53 on the first quarter clock.
The teams then traded punts and the Bobcats took over at their own 46. As the game moved into the second quarter, CHS continued its second scoring march down the field. After back-to-back runs by Hardesty picked up just one yard each, Cambridge senior signal caller Vince Daugherty found senior wideout Trevor Markley down the middle of the field for a 42-yard gainer and a first down at the Colts’ 10.
On third down, Hardesty recorded his second touchdown of the night as he plowed into the end zone from five yards out. The drive covered six plays in 54-yards. Liptak put the kick through the uprights for a 14-7 lead with 10:03 left in the half.
Sophomore Zach Freeman then provided Cambridge with its next big play. He reeled in a Watson punt and raced 26 yards untouched to the end zone. Liptak’s PAT gave the Bobcats a 21-7 lead at the 8:45 juncture.
The Bobcats’ defense then stepped up on the Colts’ next possession. Cambridge forced Meadowbrook into a fourth down situation after the Colts had started moving down the field. Meadowbrook head coach Mitch Bendle called for a fake punt and Watson was intercepted by Freeman at midfield.
Bendle said his team had opportunities in the first half, but things just didn’t materialize for his squad.
“I thought we played well in the first quarter,” Bendle related. “We moved the ball well and we executed several nice plays. I really thought that we had the momentum after our first score. Our defense was holding up. The thing that hurt us was field position in the second quarter. On a wet and muddy field, that was really a killer for us in the second quarter.
“We were still positive coming out of the half because we were only down two scores. Our defense got a good stop on Cambridge’s first drive of the second half and we had good field position. We just couldn’t execute and we had a few big opportunities in the first quarter that we didn’t execute on,” Bendle added.
Although the Bobcats posted a 28-point victory over the Colts, Goodrich lauded Bendle’s team.
“They started strong,” Goodrich said. “They came out firing and playing hard. They had a great game plan coming in and we were very fortunate that they weren’t able to execute on three or four plays. We just kept our heads in the game and finally got over some penalties that hurt us early on. I was really pleased with our special teams tonight. We had several players make big plays for us on special teams.”
Hardesty led Cambridge with 153 yards and two TDs on 33 carries. Teague added 56 yards and a score on five totes while Wetherell had 49 yards and a score on seven attempts.
Quinn paced the Colts with 32 yards on 13 carries. Watson added 14 yards and a touchdown on four attempts.
Bendle took time to compliment the Bobcats after the game and commented on the injury of senior offensive/defensive lineman Seth Barnett.
“Our hats are off to Cambridge,” the MHS coach said. “Their strength is in their power running game. They had a few good drives, including the 97-yard drive.
“It was unfortunate for us to lose Barnett (in the first half) because there isn’t a good time to lose a player like that. I feel bad for him because it was his last game. It really did hurt the morale of our offense and he’s the stud of our defense. It did have somewhat of an effect on the game.”
Cambridge leads the all-time series 26-7. Here is a look at the scores in past years: 1967 – Bobcats 30, Colts 14; 1968 – Bobcats 61, Colts 0; 1969 – Colts 6, Bobcats 3; 1970 – Bobcats 33, Colts 10; 1971 – Bobcats 30, Colts 6; 1975 – Bobcats 20, Colts 6; 1976 – Bobcats 28, Colts 6; 1977 – Bobcats 15, Colts 8; 1982 – Bobcats 21, Colts 3; 1983 – Bobcats 33, Colts 14; 1984 – Bobcats 42, Colts 12; 1985 – Bobcats 24, Colts 17; 1986 – Bobcats 7, Colts 6; 1987 – Bobcats 10, Colts 0; 1988 – Bobcats 38, Colts 20; 1989 – Colts 27, Bobcats 26 (OT); 1990 – Colts 9, Bobcats 7; 1991 – Colts 20, Bobcats 6; 1992 – Bobcats 7, Colts 0; 1993 – Bobcats 26, Colts 6; 1994 – Bobcats 35, Colts 6; 1995 – Bobcats 23, Colts 21; 1996 – Bobcats 27, Colts 26; 1997 – Colts 16, Bobcats 13; 1998 – Colts 23, Bobcats 8; 1999 – Colts 26, Bobcats 22; 2000 – Bobcats 31, Colts 7; 2001, Bobcats 14, Colts 10; 2002 – Bobcats 56, Colts 0; 2003 – Bobcats 58, Colts 27; 2004 – Bobcats 42, Colts 14; 2005 – Bobcats 35, Colts 20; 2006 – Bobcats 27, Colts 0.