YORK – Long continuous drives by the York Cougars hurt the Nation Ford Falcons chances of rallying as they fell 33-20 Saturday night to drop to 0-2 on the season.
The game was played some 25 hours after it was first delayed from Friday because of lightning. The game was scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Saturday, but didn’t get started until 8:15 p.m. because of more lightning for the second consecutive day. Nation Ford arrived around 5 p.m. and had a long delay to wait out again.
Trailing by two scores, Nation Ford made a push to open the fourth quarter with an 11-play drive taking up 75-yards as quarterback Carson Black hit Daheem Knowles for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The drive was aided by big catches from Mitchell Ladamus and Jeremiah Hailstock to get them in the red zone. That pulled them to within seven points. Hailstock caught five passes for 52 yards for the Falcons.
However, York used their ground game well in the second half to keep the clock moving as they were able to stretch the field by doing so. The Cougars scored with 21 seconds left in the game on an 80-yard drive taking nearly 10 minutes off the clock. Nation Ford also struggled with turnovers giving it back to York five times.
“We weren’t able to stop their run game,” said Nation Ford head coach Michael Allen. “After a three-and-a-half-hour delay, someone was going to come out ready and somebody was not.”
Nation Ford came out to get the second half kickoff and was forced into a three and out to open the third quarter. York came right back and threw an interception with Ladamus snatching the ball out of the air giving the Falcons another chance.
York was able to key in on the Nation Ford run game, where they struggled to move the ball for the most part on the ground. Nation Ford was able to move the ball more through the air, but the Falcons receivers hurt them at times dropping the ball multiple times, once in the end zone. Black played well going 18-for-34 and an interception passing for 238 yards and a touchdown.
“We are young there (with receivers),” Allen said. “Carson is going a good job getting the ball out.”
One of the leading receivers for Nation Ford was tight end Ben Wakefield who had a 23-yard reception to get the Falcons inside the 10-yard line, but again Nation Ford came away with only a field goal. This time it was Reed Richardson with a 25-yard field goal to pull Nation Ford to within a touchdown at that point.
York pounded the ball on the ground to chew up the clock for most of the third quarter. The Cougars were able to pick up the first downs they needed as they ate up yardage and time off the clock. One thing York was good at doing was answering Nation Ford’s scores. York was able to put together an 11-play drive to put another six on the board going 80-yards and melting nearly six minutes off the play clock to make it 27-13 in the third quarter.
Special teams were big in the first half for both teams as each team put up a touchdown because of them.
York got an interception returned for a touchdown with about 8:42 left in the second quarter to take a 13-7 lead over the Falcons.
The score was the second one by the Cougars in the second quarter as they scored a minute into the game on a 22-yard run to tie the game.
The Cougars recovered a fumble on a would be punt on the Falcons next series that gave them the ball back at the Falcons’ 41-yard line. Nation Ford’s defense was able to keep York in check on the drive and forced them to punt.
Nation Ford had their best drive of the first half after the defensive stop. Black was able to hit Knowles for a 48-yard pass to get the Falcons into the red zone. Knowles caught two passes for 58 yards. Nation Ford tried to punch the ball in on a couple of occasions, but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Richardson. The field goal left 1:44 in the second quarter and then put the score at 13-10 in the Cougars favor. The Falcons crossed midfield just twice in the first half.
“Sometimes you just have to be satisfied with points when you don’t get touchdowns,” Allen said.
However, York came right back with a 99-yard kickoff return to score a touchdown and again extend their lead by seven more points.
Nation Ford got on the board with about five minutes left in the game on a blocked punt as the Falcons’ Connor Hill recovered the ball in the end zone to get on the board.
The Falcons will have somewhat shorter of a week this coming week as they get ready to play Catawba Ridge on the road.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @fortprep