On to round 2: Warriors top Cambridge 37-21

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Carrollton Warrior Ben Zinda (55) takes down a Cambridge player during the play-off game Friday night. Warrior Brandon Gooding (24) looks on.

By Carol McIntire

Editor

Carrollton Warriors vs. St. Clairsville Red Devils – Round II – will take place this Friday at 7 p.m. in the Red Devils’ stadium.

The two teams met 12 weeks ago in the first game of the 2021 high school football season on the Warriors’ home turf. In a shoot-out, the Red Devils scored in the final minutes to claim a 42-35 victory. 

The rematch was set up when the Red Devils, ranked No. 2 in Division IV Region 15 of the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) football poll, defeated Licking Valley 55-38 and the Warriors, ranked No. 7 in the same division, defeated Cambridge 37-21. 

Warrior Coach Jim Tsilimos wouldn’t say his team is looking for revenge when the two teams lock horns Friday, saying instead, they want to win.

“I don’t know about revenge,” he said following this team’s win Friday at Community field, “but we do want to win. I told the kids there’s not many times in high school football when you get to play an opponent again. It’s pretty exciting.”

He knows his Warriors must be better prepared this time around. 

“We have to make plays. We did in the first half (of the last meeting), but they kind of wore us down. We have to step up and make plays and we know we have to score points because they can score.”

In the matchup against the No. 10 Cambridge Bobcats, both teamsstarted slow.

Three interceptions, two by Carrollton and one by Cambridge, negated any offense the teams generated in the first quarter. 

Carrollton senior defensive back Austin Colletti set up Carrollton’s first touchdown when he intercepted a Caden Moore pass on the Warrior 40-yard line. It was Colletti’s second interception of the quarter and was just three plays after BobcatJake Valentine picked off one of Colletti’s passes. 

With 3:14 on the first quarter clock, the hosts began a 60-yard march to the end zone. 

Tsilimos, true to his style of a strong running game, gave the visitors a heavy dose, mixing carries between his running backs, junior Chase Oehlstrom and senior Cameron Crider and quarterback Colletti. On the 11th play of the drive, and just eight seconds into the second quarter, Colletti found the end zone on a five yard run. Quentin Rosenberger lined up for the extra point kick. After an offside call on Cambridge moved the ball to the three-yard line, Tsilimos put his offense back on the field for a two-point conversion attempt. Colletti was stopped short of the goal line and Carrollton enjoyed a 6-0 lead.

Less than two minutes later, Brandon Carman recovered a Bobcat fumble on the Carrollton 35-yard line to set up a five-yard score by Oehlstrom eight plays later. Once again, Cambridgewas flagged for being offside on the extra point kick and Tsilimos sent his offense back on the field. This time, Oehlstom’s run was good and Carrollton led 14-0 with 6:23 left in the half. 

It took Cambridge only six minutes to erase the deficit and tie the game at 14-14 before halftime, aided by a Warrior turnover.

Bobcat Caden Kenworthy capped off a 66-yard, 10-play drive with a three-yard scoring plunge. Lucas Parsons added the first of two first-half extra point kicks. 

A Warrior fumble on the kickoff return gave the ball back to Cambridge with a first down on the Carrollton 40-yard line. Moore found Valentine open in the right corner of the end zone less than a minute later for a 19-yard pass and suddenly it was a new ball game. 

“We didn’t panic,” Tsilimos said. “They throw the ball and their quarterback is pretty good, but we hung in there. We didn’t make a whole lot of changes offensively, we stayed with the stack and did what we do best – block. Defensively, Coach Hill and the staff made some adjustments at halftime and told the kids what they had to do and it worked.”  

A focused Warrior offense returned to the field, took the second half kickoff and marched 63 yards to inside the one-yard line, where Oehlstrom was stopped on a fourth-down carry with the nose of the ball sitting just outside the goal line. 

“We missed a couple blocks down there on the line and we didn’t score. I thought that was a momentum changer,” Tsilimos said.

At that point, the Carrollton defense took over, with Alex Johnson sacking Moore in the end zone for a safety on the second play from scrimmage. 

Carrollton then turned the ensuing free kick following the safety into seven additional points.

Zack Martin fielded Andy Ogle’s punt on the Carrollton 48-yard line. Aided by a 15-yard penalty for a late hit out of bounds that was tacked onto the end of a 10-yard Oehlstrom run, Carrollton was in the red zone in just three plays. Crider capped off the drive with an eight-yard run up the middle for a touchdown. Rosenberger added the extra point to stretch the lead to 23-14 at the 5:24 mark of the third period.

Cambridge cut the margin to two points with a three-yard yard touchdown by Kenworthy late in the third period, before Carrollton took control of the game on both sides of the ball. 

Colletti scored on a five-yard run about midway through the fourth quarter. Brandon Gooding tackled Moore for a loss and fourth down, Gooding came on a blitz,  hit the arm of Moore and forced an errant incomplete pass. 

Hunter Henry iced the cake with a two-yard scoring run and Braxton Swearingen put an exclamation point on the win with a sack of Moore.

Carrollton dominated the game on the ground, rushing for 313 yards on 59 attempts, with Oehlstrom picking up 214 on 34 carries. Cambridge held the advantage through the air. 

Moore completed 13 of 28 passes for 142 yards compared to three completions on four attempts for 47 yards for Coletti.

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