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Cardiero, Indians light up Champion in AAC slugfest

October 5, 2013
By KAYLA HANUSCHAK - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

CHAMPION - At Champion Community Football Stadium on Friday night, it was a back-and-forth dance between passing yards and misdirection. But in the end, the Girard Indians dropped the Champion Golden Flashes with a 56-34 score.

Girard coach Nick Cochran believed that his team could capture the win.

"Our guys just stepped it up," Cochran said. "I don't think that we did that much. I think we just had to play Girard football. We played all four quarters this week, but there were still mistakes, but they are correctable ones. As long as our kids believe, that's the biggest thing. Some of our kids put their heads down, but you can't do that. If we play Girard football we are always in the game."

Article Photos

Tribune Chronicle / Dave Dermer
Girard’s Nick Cardiero dives into the end zone to score a touchdown after following the block of teammate Tim Mazzella (53). Girard won, 56-34.

James Cupan, senior running back, played a pristine game, leading all rushers with 28 carries for 195 yards. His longest run was for 36 yards and he had four touchdowns, scoring half of the touchdowns for his team and three of them in the second half.

"Our offensive line did really good," Cupan said. "Our offensive play calling was also really good. Just blocking all around, along with practice, helped us be successful on offensive."

To start off the game, Champion senior Brandon McFarland opened up the scoreing by breaking through the pack and running for a 54-yard touchdown, with senior Mike Cyrus scoring on the 2-point conversion. McFarland led the team in rushing yards (103), rushing attempts (13) and scored two touchdowns.

The Indians retaliated and never stayed behind for long. By the end of the first quarter, senior Nick Cardiero ran for a 5-yard touchdown. Senior Zach Cochran recovered a fumble about a minute and a half into the second quarter, which led to Cardiero's second running touchdown with 9:42 left for 11 yards. With Cardiero's 77 percent completion percentage, he threw for 270 yards, scored three touchdowns and rushed for 93 yards.

By the end of the first half, the score was 28-22 in favor of Girard.

Champion coach Terry Howell knew what to do to win, but in the end, his team was ultimately just outplayed.

"As far as adjustments went, I thought that we were adjusting well," Howell said. "It was a ball game at halftime, 28-22. There weren't many adjustments in the second half though. They just came out in the second half and they just were a little bit more physical than we were up front and we were able to do some things and move the ball. We had opportunities and we needed to take advantage of them."

In the second half, Girard stepped up and scored 28 points to Champion's 12 to completely take over the game. Champion only had 13 first downs the entire game to Girard's 27, but ended up rushing for more total yards (289).

"I thought we played a pretty good ball game up till halftime," Howell said. "Obviously, whenever you get the ball to open up the game, they are going to get the ball in the second half and that is always a big series and you always want to have the stop and we just didn't get it done."

Cupan knows that if the team practices well for the next week, that they can have the same outcome.

"We are going to bring the intensity back, keep it going through practice this whole week and never let up," Cupan said. "Just keep going."

"Like I said, it doesn't get any easier," Cochran said. "Liberty is a good football team, our rival, with a ton of speed. It's going to be a challenge for us. We just have to watch film and break it down and make sure we do the right things next week."

The Flashes (3-3, 1-2) travel to Campbell next week while Girard (3-3, 2-1) is at home hosting Liberty.