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NEW CONCORD — More often than not in recent years, Cambridge High had written the book on physical play.
John Glenn decided to deliver a bit of a reading lesson in the much-anticipated battle of next-door neighbors and did so chapter and verse, with the Muskies smacking the ’Cats with a 24-14 conquest at Muskingum University’s McConagha Stadium on Friday.
The victory boosts John Glenn to 2-0 on the young season while dropping Cambridge to 1-1.
“Our kids are pretty physical, and that gives us a chance,” offered veteran John Glenn coach John Kelley. “We were concerned about their speed, but we did a great job containing them.”
Second-year Cambridge boss Kevin Gunn agreed.
“They were physically dominant compared to what we expected,” said Gunn. “They controlled the line of scrimmage and we felt that would be the key factor. We needed to establish an identity in the first half, but they pressured us and we weren’t able to.”
Kelley felt his team did an excellent job of maintaining its focus for the clash.
“I don’t know if I even said their name all week,” he related. “We just went about our business and we were ready to play.
“This was a quality win, no question,” the Muskies’ mentor added. “It should give us a lot of momentum going into the MVL schedule.”
Late in the first quarter, a high punt snap forced Cambridge’s Eric Fox to run, but he came up well short and John Glenn took over at the Bobcats’ 28-yard line.
The Muskies needed eight snaps to cover the distance, with senior back Stone Morgan hitting paydirt from a yard out on the final play of the period.
Senior lefty Ross Mathews drilled the point-after kick, giving JG a 7-0 advantage.
The Bobcats came up with a pair of takeaways on the Muskies’ next two possessions, but each time failed to capitalize.
The first turnover came on a fumble recovery by CHS senior Logan Helmick at the John Glenn 25, but the ‘Cats failed to move and Fox’s attempt at a school-record 47-yard field goal was long enough but just off to the right.
Three plays later, the ‘Cats got another chance when junior Riley Hayhurst intercepted a pass at the Muskies’ 29.
This time, Cambridge got as far as four-yard line, but the John Glenn “D” rose to the challenged and turned the ‘Cats away at the eight.
The Muskies advanced from there to the Cambridge 20 in the waning seconds of the half, but a 37-yard field goal try by Mathews misfired to leave the hosts on top, 7-0, at the intermission.
“We played very well in the first half,” offered JG’s Kelley, “but we were shooting ourselves in the foot offensively. We probably should have been up more than 7-0.”
After gaining just 27 net yards in the first half, Cambridge showed a little pep in its step to start the third quarter and quickly drove 64 yards in nine plays to even the score.
Junior QB Caleb Tingle completed three passes in the drive, including two to Hayhurst, and senior back Michael Wildroudt ripped off a 13-yard gainer along the way, but it was Tingle who got the TD on a five-yard scramble.
Fox added the PAT to make it a 7-7 affair with 9:55 remaining in round three.
“We came out more focused and picked up the tempo and moved the ball,” said Gunn.
A partially-blocked punt by Morgan gave John Glenn possession at its 31 where on first down, the Muskies stunned the ‘Cats with a 57-yard pass-and-run from senior QB Zyler Flowers to senior back Blake Atkins which carried all the way to the CHS 12.
Four plays later, on a fourth-and-one at the two, Morgan plowed his way into the end zone to put the Muskies back on top. Mathews’ boot made it 14-7 with 3:49 left in the third chapter.
“We gave ourselves some life,” said Gunn, “but they hit us with the big pass and took it right back.”
John Glenn pushed its lead to 17-7 on the first play of the final frame when Mathews connected on a 42-yard field goal.
It appeared the Bobcats would get back within three in a hurry when speedy Errik Snell broke off a 90-yard kickoff return to paydirt, but a holding call at the 40 brought it back.
Two series later, Cambridge had a chance to cut into the lead when it moved from its 38 to the JG 24, but a fourth-and-two run by Tingle came up inches short.
Morgan made it a “hat trick” of TDs soon thereafter, ripping off a 71-yard scoring scamper that put the game on ice with 2:47 to play. Mathews’ conversion widened the gap to 24-7.
Cambridge tacked on a consolation score in the final seconds, with an 18-yard scramble to the end zone by Tingle followed by a Fox PAT capping a nine-play, 62-yard series.
John Glenn’s wing-T attack netted 333 total yards, with 264 coming on the ground with the bulk of that evenly divided between Morgan (16 carries for 127 yards) and Atkins (19 carries for 119 yards). Flowers was 2-of-7 for 69 yards, with Atkins catching both aerials.
“It’s all about assignment football,” Gunn said of his team’s inability to slow down the Muskies. “Reading keys is big against that type of offense and even when we knew what was coming, they went out and executed it.”
Cambridge closed with 221 net yards, including 84 rushing and 137 passing. Tingle hit 14-of-27 tosses, with Hayhurst grabbing nine for 78 yards, and Wildroudt rushed for 49 yards on 10 attempts.
Despite the loss, Gunn said there’s no reason to get dejected because there’s still a lot of football ahead.
“We still have eight games to go,” he said. “The true test of character is how you deal with adversity and we’ll be ready to go next week.”
While this was the first meeting between John Glenn and Cambridge, officially the last time the neighboring grid squad met was in 1961 with the Bobcats claiming a 48-6 triumph.
NEXT — Week Three finds Cambridge hosting Granville at 7 p.m. and John Glenn traveling to West Muskingum for its Muskingum Valley League opener at 7:30.