By T. Scott Boatright
It was all about the start and the finish Thursday as Cedar Creek played host to St. Frederick in a District 2-1A showdown at Cougar Stadium.
And it was the Warriors who both started and finished strong as St. Frederick defeated Cedar Creek 30-14 to pick up the win heading into the Division IV Select School playoffs next week.
St. Frederick scored on the game’s opening drive, marching 58 yards on seven plays, with a 28-yard run by MJ Dade playing a big role in what was called a 10-yard touchdown pass at the 8:17 mark of the opening stanza.
At first glance it appeared it was Cedar Creek defensive back Ladd Thompson who went high to come down with the interception, but after a slight hesitation game officials ruled the play a St. Frederick touchdown to give early momentum to the Warriors.
Cedar Creek coach William Parkerson admitted he first thought Thompson had made the interception but wasn’t about to blame the loss on one play.
“We’ve just got to make more plays,” Parkerson said. “We’ll see on film if (Thompson) caught that ball or not. If that’s the case, we didn’t get the call we needed.”
St. Frederick held Cedar Creek to a three-and-out situation on the ensuing series with the Warriors getting the ball back at its own 39-yard line following the Cougars’ punt.
Then St. Frederick mounted a 10-play drive, moving down inside the red zone before penalties pushed the ball back to force a 45-yard field goal attempt. St. Frederick’s Harper sailed his career best kick right between the uprights to put the Warriors up 10-0 with 2:08 remaining in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, a pair of Cougars ran into each other trying to catch the ball with St. Frederick pouncing on the fumble to take back over at the Cedar Creek 34-yard line.
Dade then powered his way through a big hit at the goal line to finish a 10-yard scoring scamper that pushed the St. Frederick advantage to 16-0 with 1:19 left in the first quarter.
Cedar Creek countered on its next possession, with runs of 20 yards by Thompson and 39 yards by Gray Worthey setting up a one-yard touchdown by Lawson Lillo. St. Frederick’s lead to 16-6 with 10:32 remaining in the first half.
Thompson rushed for 90 yards on 19 carries while Worthey totaled 94 yards on 17 carries and a score.
Cedar Creek had another opportunity midway through the second quarter but lost a fumble as St. Frederick held on to a 16-6 lead at halftime.
After the slow start the Cougars’ defense played a big role in that strong second quarter, pressuring St. Frederick quarterback Montrell Jackson, who was sacked three times and hit many more times than that.
“I just wish we could have made one or two more plays early on,” said Parkerson. “Credit (St. Frederick), they made more winning plays than we did. Now we have to regroup and get ready for whoever we play in the playoffs.”
Lillo led Creek with 13 tackles while Blake Robinson and Worthey each totaled 11 stops.
Cedar Creek came out after intermission and dominated the third quarter, chewing 9:54 off the clock and marching 80 yards on 16 plays, with Worthey powering his way to paydirt from three yards out to cut the Warriors’ lead to 16-14 after Thompson’s two-point conversion run.
The Cougars forced a three-and-out and another St. Frederick punt on the next series, but the Warriors countered by doing the same to Cedar Creek.
Taking over at the Cedar Creek 45, the Warriors completed a seven-yard pass before Dade outraced the Cougars 39 yards untouched to the end zone to move out to a 23-14 advantage with 10:22 remaining in the contest.
“We haven’t really been in a fourth-quarter game this year,” said Warriors coach Andy Robinson. “We’ve been in some really weird scenarios whether we were up big or getting blown out. We kind of had our backs against the wall. They milked the clock that whole third quarter and made it a one-score game,
“Then we go out and it’s a three-and-out. I thought about going for it but I felt like going for the punt was the right thing to do. Kind of flip the field, so to speak. And we make the stop and then MJ came up with some big runs late.”
Cedar Creek’s offensive line seemed to wear down at that point with Thompson facing a fierce pass rush the remainder of the game. Thompson was 0-for-8 through the air in the game.
“That’s my first guess without seeing any film year,” Parkerson said. “Our line got tired and their defense went after the quarterback.”
Dade capped off scoring as he danced and juked his way to the end zone on a 33-yard touchdown run with 6:38 left on the clock.
“He’s a good player,” Parkerson said. “It seems like late we started getting tired and he started busting more of those.”
Parkerson admitted it was the bad start and finish that proved too much for his team to overcome.
“We had our opportunities, but we just didn’t capitalize,” Parkinson said. “We got the ball back with the chance to go take the lead and just kind of ran out of gas and unfortunately just didn’t have enough to finish.”
Now the Cougars, who finished at 4-5 overall and 1-2 in District play, wait for release of playoff pairings late Sunday morning.
“There’s a good chance we’re playing Glenbrook who we had every opportunity to beat in Week One” Parkerson said.