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Cardinals Knock Off No. 1 Ranked Wolfpack 22-0

Uphill Run

Randolph's Jaiden Huntington intercepts the pass intended for Clymer/Sherman/Panama's Micah Willink during Saturday's Class D football game at Jack Keeney Community Field in Panama. P-J photo by Tim Frank

PANAMA — Coming into Saturday’s Section VI Class D football game the Clymer/Sherman/Panama Wolfpack was the No. 1 ranked Class D team in the state and if the Randolph Cardinals were going to win it would certainly be an uphill battle.

The Cardinals looked at that hill and ran right up it on the legs of running back Xander Hind for a 22-0 victory in Section VI Class D football at Jack Keeney Community Field in Panama.

“They’re a good team, obviously it feels good because that’s the team to beat… they’re No. 1 in the state,” Randolph head coach Brent Brown said about the win.

Hind rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns — that total was made even more impressive considering the Cardinals only attempted two passes with the Wolfpack knowing Hind was most likely going to get the ball. When Hind wasn’t getting the touches out of the backfield they went to Luke Pagett who bulldozed his way to 75 yards and one touchdown.

“They’re big and physical and they run the ball well,” Wolfpack head coach Ty Harper said about Randolph’s offense. “That’s Randolph football, that’s been Randolph’s MO for three decades. We knew that they were going to run dive option, I thought they did a really good job running ISO at us today. We just weren’t tough enough in the trenches, but that’s a tribute to them.”

All of the scoring plays in the game came on the ground with Hind running in two 1-yard scores and Pagett also scoring on a 1-yard run. The Cardinals offense just dropped back for two pass plays on the day, but rushed the ball 57 times.

“These guys are tough,” Brown said about the Wolfpack run defense. “They’ll put eight in the box, mix it around and sometimes it’s a guessing game. But you’ve got to hand it to the offensive line, they picked up the blitz pretty good and we were able to move the ball down the field.”

The Wolfpack’s gameplan differed greatly from the Cardinals as they had a fairly even mix of rushing and passing attempts. However, no matter what the Wolfpack offense decided to do, Randolph was ready for it. On the way to its second shutout of the season Randolph’s defense found success winning the turnover battle and getting to the quarterback.

“That was the whole deal, don’t give up that long pass,” stated Brown. “If they’re going to throw underneath come up and tackle them and make them do it ten times down the field to beat us. I thought our pass defense was obviously good against a good team.”

Randolph’s defensive highlights included Hind, Pagett, Maverick Adams and Jaiden Huntington all recording sacks. On top of the pressure on the quarterback, Huntington dropped back into coverage for both interceptions in the game.

“He’s big, he’s strong and there is not a kid on this Earth that loves the game more than he does,” Brown said about Huntington. “Practice everyday he can’t wait to get here, he’s a great kid to have.”

Despite the final score being so lopsided, at halftime Randolph only led 8-0. After forcing a punt on the opening drive of the third quarter the Wolfpack offense hoped to tie the game on its first drive of the half. The Wolfpack was able to get into the redzone, but a risky pass was attempted for the endzone that Huntington dropped back into coverage to snag for an interception.

A bad situation turned into a worse one on the next drive for the Wolfpack. Just when it looked like Randolph’s offense was being slowed down the Wolfpack helped them out by getting some personal fouls that helped move the sticks and continue the drive. Randolph cashed in on the turnover and bad penalties with the Pagett touchdown run to go up 16-0 with another 2-point conversion right before the fourth quarter.

The Wolfpack put together one more good drive when the game was still in reach, but Randolph’s defense proved too difficult with sacks on third and fourth down to get a turnover on downs. The Cardinals drove down the field one last time for a final Hind score and a missed 2-point attempt that provided the final score of 22-0.

“It’s a long season, I think sometimes a loss is a really good opportunity to learn,” Harper said about the loss. “A few years back we went out to Ellicottville and got beat by Franklinville-Ellicottville and we ended up seeing them again in the sectional finals. So it’s definitely not the end of the world for us and hopefully we can regroup.”

With the win Randolph moves into the top spot of Class D, preserving its perfect record overall and 2-0 in the division. The Wolfpack is now 3-1 and will try to get back in the win column against St. Mary’s.

Randolph 0 8 8 6 — 22

Clymer/Sherman/Panama 0 0 0 0 — 0

R–Hind 1 run (Conley 2-pt)

R–Pagett 1 run (Conley 2-pt)

R–Hind 1 run (2-pt failed)

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