A football team can’t go wrong if it builds its program around defense.
The North Central Indians, coming off an encouraging effort the week before in a loss against Mead, proved an immovable object for much of its 36-14 win over Rogers on Friday night at Joe Albi Stadium with another sterling defensive effort.
Rogers capitalized after recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff and moved smartly to score the game’s first touchdown. But the Pirates netted just 12 more yards the remainder of the first half.
Therein lay the gist of the outcome. Rogers, until the fourth quarter, and trailing 28-7, could muster scant yardage against the salty NC defense.
“The defense has been playing great,” coach Brian Gardner said. “They played a great game last week and a great game tonight.”
The result was that the Indians’ offense was treated to great field position all game long – and ultimately took advantage. Because of the stifling defensive effort, four of NC’s five scoring drives began inside Rogers territory.
The rushing of Forrest Cuthbert (94 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns) and timely passing by Zac Hill enabled NC to lead early in the second quarter. Two more TDs in the third quarter, including a 27-yard burst by Sam Cropper, gave it a three-touchdown advantage.
When Rogers got untracked in the final period, Jon Stratton put the contest out of reach with a 67-yard dash with 4 minutes, 34 seconds to play.
“We’ve got a lot of guys back on the field with good experience,” Gardner said.
“Some are in their third year. Forrest runs hard and Zac is still learning (quarterback). When he figures it out he’ll be tough to stop.”
Gardner also lauded the performance of the line, a source of concern over the years. Both teams, in fact, seem more athletic than in seasons past.
Pirates sophomore Luke Rogers was a two-way star, rushing for 112 yards on 26 carries and was in on numerous tackles.
University 27, Lewis and Clark 3: Jory Zettle carried the ball 26 times for 171 yards and two touchdowns to help the host Titans (1-1) knock the Tigers (1-1) from the unbeaten ranks.
Dustin Johnson helped the Titans put the game away early in the second half, returning an interception for a touchdown to give them a 21-3 lead.
Ferris 42, Shadle Park 14: Ben Goodwin completed 12 of 20 passes for 140 yards and a TD and the Saxons (2-0) rushed for 211 yards and four touchdowns – including two by Drew Sharkey – to upend the Highlanders (0-2) at Albi.