Cardinals hang on to top Vikes in rivalry game

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Onaway running back Lucas Tollini (53) avoids Posen defenders Dylan Schuch (3) and Brady Chojnacki (56) during the first quarter of an 8-man football game on Friday at Posen High School.

POSEN — Onaway and Posen are separated by just a handful of miles and the cross county rivals battled it out on Friday. In the end, it was the Cardinals coming away with a 28-22 victory to spoil Posen’s homecoming party.

“Our defense really stiffened up when we needed to tonight and we moved the ball well offensively the entire night. I’m really proud of how well the boys played tonight,” Onaway coach Jim Cleaver said.

It took a few drives before either offense could put points on the board. On Posen’s first two drives of the game, the Vikings took the ball deep into Onaway territory, but had two drives stall out at the 17 and 23 yard lines as the Cardinals defense stiffened when it needed to and it proved to be important later in the game.

After forcing the Vikings to turn the ball over on downs in their first two possessions, Onaway (3-3) forced a Posen punt that it got a hand on, but the ball hit an Onaway player on a bounce and the Vikings recovered the ball at midfield. Posen was unable to take advantage of the good field position and was forced to punt again.

The Cardinals opened the scoring late in the first quarter as quarterback Trevor Wregglesworth capped a six-play, 71-yard drive by hitting wide receiver Gavin Fenstermaker in stride for a 30-yard touchdown to give Onaway an 8-0 lead with 21 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.

The Vikings (1-5) were finally able to get in the end zone and cut into the lead when quarterback Dylan Schuch ripped off a 40 yard run to reach pay dirt as Posen trailed by two at the break.

“Our kids played hard, Onaway played hard, give them a lot of credit and we just fell short tonight,” Posen coach Greg Pietsch said. “I think they had a good defensive gameplan where they put a lot of pressure on our quarterback. It was a tough game and it’s unfortunate, but I’m proud of our kids because we were shorthanded tonight and every one of our kids played their guts out tonight, but we came up short.”

The offense picked up in the second half as Onaway came out and regained its eight point lead when Wregglesworth threw his second touchdown of the night, this one to Nick Byrne from nine yards out to put the Cardinals up 14-6.

Posen continued to find ways to break off big plays and the Vikings tied the game up with 4:35 left in the third when Schuch hit a wide open George Kroll for a 43-yard touchdown as Posen converted the two point try to tie the game up at 14 apiece.

“We were calling some plays on the fly during the second half because of the defensive adjustments Onaway was making and we went back to our bread and butter and we were able to execute,” Pietsch said. “Dylan Schuch showed some great senior leadership tonight calling out plays and that was huge for us.”

The contest didn’t stay tied for long as the Cardinals needed just three plays to go 53 yards in 32 seconds to take the lead back when Lucas Tollini powered his way into the end zone from 11 yards out to put Onaway on top 20-14 after three quarters.

The Cardinals found themselves trailing for the first time just three seconds into the final quarter of play as Posen scored and took the lead on the first play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter when Schuch threw a five yard pass across the middle to Sam Brunet and Schuch plunged across the goal line for the two point conversion to give the home team a 22-20 lead in the fourth.

Onaway responded with a scoring drive of its own as it put together an impressive 10 play drive. Two key plays in the drive came on third and fourth down as Wregglesworth scrambled for 26 yards on a third and 11 and the Cardinals also converted a fourth an one to keep the drive going that ended in Tollini’s second touchdown of the night, this time from 14 yards out and the two point try was good and the Cardinals took a 28-22 lead and one they wouldn’t give up.

“It was important for us to respond and take the lead the drive after giving up the lead. If we don’t make some of the plays we did, we don’t win that game,” Cleaver said. “I’m really happy to get back to the .500 mark and we’re hoping to win out, but we have a tough road ahead and nothing is going to come easy.”

Posen attempted to rally, but the Vikings inability to finish off drives hurt them again as they stalled out and turned the ball back over to Onaway who converted a fourth down and one late on a three yard run by Fenstermaker to ice the game.

Onaway was led by Wregglesworth who went 9-for-24 passing with 184 yards and two touchdowns. Wregglesworth also ran for 51 yards. Tollini led the Cardinals ground attack with 106 yards on 17 carried including two touchdowns.

The Vikings were led by Schuch who had nearly 350 yards of total offense as he ran 20 times for 215 yards with one score and was 9-for-20 through the air with two passing touchdowns. Mark Wisniewski carried the ball 11 times for 66 yards.

Onaway will square off against Pickford on Friday while the Vikings will travel to Bellaire.

Jonny Zawacki can be reached via email at jzawacki@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5690.