|10/03/17 - |
CLEVELAND — The Ada High football team survived well over a football field’s worth of penalties and a sputtering offense for an odd 16-4 win over host Cleveland Friday night at Billy Vessels Memorial Stadium.
The win moved Ada over the .500 mark for the first time this season at 3-2, while Cleveland dropped to an identical 3-2. Ada is now 2-0 in District 4A-2 play, while the Tigers stand at 1-1.
“An ugly win’s always better than a pretty loss. There was nothing really pretty about it, but we figured it out,” Ada head coach Chris Berus told The Ada News following the victory. “We did what we had to do to make the plays to go win. At times (Cleveland) got in the red zone, and the kids were making plays when they needed to make plays.”
The game started with a turnover on downs by Cleveland, followed by four consecutive punts.
The Cougars finally got the ball near midfield after a short kick by Cleveland punter/quarterback Dakota Cline that was due partly to pressure by Christian Maloy.
Ada quarterback Jackson McFarlane, who had a great night running the ball but could never quite get the passing game in sync, had carries of 10 and 15 yards on the drive that stalled on the CHS 23. McFarlane booted a whopping 40-yard field goal that was right on the mark to give Ada a 3-0 lead at the 8:06 mark of the second period.
Brooks Davis quickly got the ball back for the Cougars after recovering a bad pitch from Cline to Cleveland running back Ben Potts. That set up the Ada offense at the CHS 27.
On the first play, McFarlane threw a beautiful touchdown pass to Kyle Cooper down the left sideline, but that score was wiped out by one of Ada’s 17 penalties in the game that totaled an incredible 128 yards.
Just three plays later, McFarlane tried a 38-yard field goal but left it a bit short, leaving the score at 3-0.
“That first one was a big-time kick. You noticed, we have to get that from him early. As the game progresses, it gets tough,” Berus said, noting the amount of time his kicker/QB spends on both sides of the ball.
It looked like the half would end with the lone field goal after Ada faced a fourth-and-6 from its own 19. However, a snap sailed over punter Tovan Thomsen’s head, resulting in a Cleveland safety that made it 3-2 — a score suited much better for baseball — 59.4 seconds before halftime.
The Tigers then reached into their bag of tricks. Cline pitched the ball to Nolan Caywood on a reverse, and he stopped and threw the ball down the field toward a CHS receiver. But Cooper intercepted the offering, and the teams went into halftime with Ada clinging to its one-point lead.
McFarlane had completed just 1-of-10 passes at halftime and fared a little better over the final two frames. Still, he was just 6-of-18 for 75 yards for the game.
His 17-yard completion to Lincoln Gibson was a key play during Ada’s drive to open the third quarter. That play helped set up a 4-yard TD romp by running back Adam Anderson that gave the visitors some breathing room at 10-2 at the 9:05 mark of the third frame.
Anderson, who suffered an ankle injury during last week’s physical win over high-powered Bethany, didn’t start the game, and the ailment seemed to slow him down at times. He still finished with 47 yards on 13 tries.
Cleveland then tried to answer with an impressive drive of its own. Cline guided the Tigers from their own 22 all the way down to the Ada 5. The march was helped by back-to-back big Cougar penalties — one for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the other for pass interference. But on third-and-6 from the 10, McFarlane picked off Cleveland’s lefty QB near the end zone and raced 49 yards to midfield.
Both offenses again struggled to move the ball before a bizarre play gave Cleveland some momentum.
Cline punted the ball from near midfield, and teammate Hunter Darien rushed down the field and tried to down the ball, but his momentum appeared to carry him into the end zone for a touchback. But an official ruled the ball dead at the 1, putting Ada in a big hole with 11:05 left in the fourth quarter.
On Ada’s first play, Anderson was stacked up short of the goal line, resulting in Cleveland’s second safety of the contest that cut the Cougars’ advantage to 10-4.
The Tigers advanced to near midfield, but Ada’s Matt Maloy foiled that Cleveland drive with an interception
The Cougars, starting at their own 15 after a penalty, finally put a nice drive together that included a nine-yard catch by Zach Powell, a 22-yard run by Anderson and a 14-yard run by McFarlane. The Cougars scored their second touchdown of the game when McFarlane connected with Powell for a 23-yard score. A two-point pass attempt fell incomplete, leaving the locals with a 16-4 lead with 6:54 to play.
Cleveland mounted one final drive, moving from their own 20 to the Ada 30. But Powell recovered a fumble for the Tigers’ fifth turnover of the night to seal the deal.
“Hats off to our defense and how they managed the entire game,” Berus said of his team’s shutout.
Linebacker Walt Labove led the Cougars with 12 tackles, while Clay Balthrop added eight stops. Jalen Jessepe was next with seven tackles, while Christian Maloy had four tackles for loss and caused a fumble.
McFarlane finished with 175 yards on 19 carries to go with his field goal and interception.
“No. 7 played a heckuva ballgame tonight,” Berus said of the AHS senior.
Berus said he liked the way the Cougars overcame adversity at different points throughout the game.
“This is one of those character-building kind of victories, because we had to play hard and physical to pull it out,” he said. “Our guys did a good job of overcoming some obstacles that were out of our control a little bit that were definitely a little one-sided, if you will.”
The Cougars will host Tecumseh at 7:30 p.m. Friday night in a Week 6 matchup. No. 5 Blanchard socked the Savages 47-0 last weekend.