Football: Irish Slip By Dragons

CAMERON – Notre Dame’s Santino Cava did not find the end zone Friday night at Cameron, a week after scoring four times in a 27-16 win over Grafton.

It’s hard to argue he was not responsible for the three the Irish scored in a 24-18 win against the Dragons.

He had so much of Cameron’s attention, the Dragons totally lost sight of the Irish passing game in a 1:26 stretch of the second quarter. It was costly.

Trailing 12-3, Notre Dame (2-0) struck twice. Quarterback Tyler McKinsey found Wakem Simon on a 33-yard scoring strike and following an Irish interception, McKinsey hooked up with Gaje Brown on a 48 yard strike to give Notre Dame a lead it would not relinquish.

“They were putting everybody in the box, keying on Santino, and you can’t fault anyone for doing that,” Notre Dame coach Sam Alvaro said. “He has to draw attention and we were able to capitalize off that.”

Cameron coach Jim Rogers agreed.

It’s frustrating because we were right there,” the Dragons’ coach said. “We made a couple of costly errors, they got loose in the seams and they made a couple of big plays. But I just told our defense they did a good job. They were a little cocky coming in here. Our defense, except for a couple of mistakes, did a good job.”

Enough to keep the Dragons in the game through most of the second half.

Time and time again they stymied the Irish offense, and Cava, who did finish with 185 yards on 33 carries, though he never could break the big run.

Twice, Cameron (1-2) had a chance to take the lead, trailing 17-12.

The first time came late in the third, when it looked like quarterback Logan Routt had an open receiver in the back of the end zone on a fade route but Notre Dame’s Chad Morrison arrived at the same time as the ball and jarred it free.

Early in the fourth, Routt broke a 47-yard run to Notre Dame’s 16-yard line.

After three straight penalties, two on Notre Dame and one on Cameron, the Dragons faced a fourth-and-2 at the eight, and hard-charging running back Hunter Yoders (26 carries, 69 yards) came up inches short of a first down.

“We had opportunities the whole game,” Rogers said. “That’s what makes it so frustrating. We are this close to a touchdown (in the third) and just inches short of it being first and goal (in the fourth). I’m proud of the kids, though,. We are getting better/”

Notre Dame was able to score, and put the game away, when Simon went up the middle untouched on an 8-yard carry, when it looked for all the world like Cava would get the ball on a sweep. It was Simon’s only carry of the game.

“I think they definitely expected a sweep to Santino, and Wakem was able to sneak up in there, and, as it turned out, we needed that score,” Alvaro said.

Cameron did drive for a score, Routt, who threw for 222 yards, finding Zach Hall for a 26-yard touchdown. It was the second time the duo hooked up for a score in the game. Hall caught seven passes for 162 yards in the game.

After Notre Dame’s Adam McMunn gave the Irish a 3-0 lead on their first drive, Cameron went to work.

Hall and Routt hooked up on their first down to make it 6-3 with 4:47 left in the first quarter.

In the second, after Routt and Hall combined on a 77-yard hookup, Cameron went to a little trickery and it worked. Spencer Harlow took the ball from Routt and then pitched to Shane Williams on a reverse. Williams found the corner and scooted into the end zone from 15 yards out.

“I told the kids coming into this game when you play Cameron they are going to come out and hit you and they are going to keep hitting you,” Alvaro said. “That’s what they did. We were able to make enough plays to get out of here with a win. It’s a good win.”

Cameron will be back at home next Friday, hosting Beallsville