No. 6 Cardinal Newman 27, Wellington 19: Crusaders escape with win
Friday, October 05, 2012
by Zach Buckley
Wellington's special teams were stellar Friday night.
Luckily for sixth-ranked Cardinal Newman (6-0), it won enough battles on offense and defense to escape with a 27-19 victory over the Wolverines (3-3).
With Wellington trailing 27-16 with 18 seconds left in the game, Wolverines coach Thomas Abel called on his kicker, sophomore Nicholas Rubinowicz, who converted his fourth field goal of the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, Rubinowicz lofted the ball over Cardinal Newman's hands team and Wellington's James Foster recovered the kick at the Crusaders' 25-yard-line.
But junior quarterback Cole Smallridge, who finished 5-for-11 for 80 yards, threw three straight incomplete passes before time expired.
"We got the ball back there and were supposed to score," Abel said. "But we just couldn't do it."
In addition to the onside-kick recovery, Cardinal Newman's special teams allowed two lengthy kickoff returns to sophomore Shamar Jackson, both of which set up drives that ended with Wellington points.
"We're bad on special teams," Crusaders coach Steve Walsh said. "Kickoff coverage has been our Achilles' (heel) all year, and they exploited it on us with good field position."
But when faced with a short field, Cardinal Newman's defense responded, holding Wellington to one touchdown, a 13-yard run by junior running back Matt Sabatino in the second quarter, in four red zone trips.
Offensively, the Crusaders' aerial attack was something of a new wrinkle in their playbook.
"They are a really physical team," Walsh said. "We figured we would have to pass it more."
Senior quarterback George Mastics completed 11 of his 17 attempts for 147 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Matt Burke had six catches for 74 yards and a touchdown, and receiver Travis Rudolph added four receptions for 65 yards.
Cardinal Newman controlled much of the first half, but a four-play, 38-yard drive (aided by a 15-yard pass-interference penalty on third down) ended with a 42-yard Rubinowicz field goal that ended the half with the Wolverines trailing 14-13.
The Wolverines grabbed a 16-14 lead late in the third quarter on a 35-yard field goal from Rubinowicz, but the Crusaders answered with consecutive scoring drives.
Erick Hardnett's 23-yard rushing touchdown with 52.9 seconds left in the third gave Cardinal Newman a 21-16 lead, and a 9-yard touchdown run from Travis Rudolph with 6:14 remaining in the fourth quarter added needed insurance.