Leopards Opener Ends On Last Second, Heartbreaking Kick 24-21 – Varsity Football
Canfield 24, Louisville 21
Canfield rallied back from a 14-0 first quarter deficit to tie the game at 21-21 by halftime. Neither team scored in the second half until Cardinals Kicker Jonathan Schmidt connected on a 19 yard field goal as time expired.
Quarterback Colton Jones completed 17 of 27 passes for 228 yards and threw a pair of first quarter touchdown passes that gave Louisville a 14-0 lead out of the gate. Jones went over the top to Davis Burick for a 40 yard strike just 1:50 into the season. Later Jones found a wide open Grayson Beamer for a 71 yard touchdown pass just three plays into the Leopards second drive.
Canfield answered with an 11 play, 75 yard scoring drive. They converted a 3rd-and-8 at midfield when Fullback Chris Sammarone ran up the middle for the necessary yardage before getting stripped by Leopards Safety Dan Kennedy. The ball flipped right into the outstretch arms of Cardinals Tailback Tony Pannunzio who fell on it at the Louisville 45.
Despite this bad bounce, the Leopards defense stormed into the backfield on the next two plays as Defensive End Jason Goard and Linebacker Max Stamey each dropped the Canfield ball carrier for a loss. However, a face mask was called against Louisville giving Canfield new life at the Leopards 37. On 3rd-and-2, Cardinals Tailback Nick Crawford ran left 37 yards to the endzone to cut the LHS lead in half with 1:57 to go in the first quarter.
The Leopards defense continued to hit hard on the next Canfield drive. Stamey jarred the ball free on the third play of the second quarter, but the Cardinals recovered. A few plays later, Safety Carter Rode and Goard stopped a run for a loss to setup 3rd-and-23 at the Canfield 5. The Cardinals played it safe with a play action draw up the middle, but Goard was on a mission to strip the quarterback anyway. He forcefully ripped the ball from his arms and fell on his own forced fumble at the 12 yard line.
Louisville busted out the Wildcat Formation and Burick ran ahead for 11 yards on two plays to setup 1st-and-Goal from the 1. Two plays later, Sophomore Tailback Connor Adelman took a direct snap up the gut and reached the endzone behind a big push up front led by Junior Offensive Lineman Tony Brahler. Fellow Sophomore Kicker Myles Lab’s third extra point kick of the night was true to give the Leopards a 21-7 lead with 7:56 left to play before halftime.
Canfield scored twice in the final six minutes of the first half to tie the game up heading into the locker room. A 34 yard kick return by Pannunzio set the Cardinals up in Louisville territory at the 48. Five plays later, Crawford ran right, broke out of three tackles, and dove across the goal line for a 20 yard touchdown run. Leopards Senior Justin Broad stormed in for a textbook block of the extra point to keep the LHS lead at eight with 5:50 to go in the second quarter.
Louisville’s ensuing drive stalled at midfield forcing a punt that was downed at the Canfield 23. On the first series of the drive, the Cardinals converted on another back-breaking 3rd-and-8 when Quarterback Ethan Fletcher tossed a screen pass to Sammarone for a gain of 11. Crawford plunged up the middle for a gain of 12 on the next play across the midfield stripe. Then Fletcher ran a draw to the right for another 20 yards to the Leopard 28.
The Cardinals continued to run the clock out before the 9 play, 77 yard drive ended with Crawford’s third touchdown of the night from a yard away with just 20 seconds remaining before half. He finished with 16 carries for 147 yards in the first half as CHS tallied 220 yards on the ground before halftime. Fletcher ran a QB sweep to the left to score the two-point conversion to knot the game at 21-21 heading into the intermission.
The second half was full of missed opportunities and questionable referee calls for the Leopards who dominated field position up until the final drive of the game. The Louisville defense force a three-and-out and a short punt allowed LHS to begin on their own 43. Jones hit Ryan Pukys and Beamer for a pair of first downs. Then Senior Runningback Nathan Guiley pushed ahead for 4 yards to the Cardinals 29.
Then disaster struck. A tipped pass found the hands of Inside Linebacker Michael Crawford for a Canfield interception. After a block in the back on the return, the Cardinals setup shop on their own 18. Canfield drove slightly across midfield after converting a 4th-and-1 in their own territory, but the Leopards defense came up big again with another stop.
Neither team scored on their next possessions as the game moved on into the fourth quarter. The Cardinals shanked a punt that went out of bounds at the Canfield 29 yard line, eerily giving Louisville the ball back exactly where they had left off before the interception.
Facing a 4th-and-5 on their first series, Jones rolled to his right and heaved a pass to the right sideline that found the waiting arms of a diving Pukys at the 3 yard line. Adelman drove forward to the 1 yard line on the next play, but Cardinals Defensive Lineman Anthony D’Alesio snuffed out the next Leopard run to force a 3rd-and-Goal from the 5. A jump ball in the right corner of the endzone was defended away by Canfield Defensive Back Luke Morell. On 4th-and-5, Jones rolled to his left and fired a strike to Beamer in the back left corner of the endzone. The football started to fall out, but Beamer appeared to regain possession prior to the ball hitting the turf. The referee waived it off as incomplete in what was the most critical and most debatable call of the night.
The Cardinals took over at their own 5 yard line and the Leopards defense forced a three-and-out. Louisville took over on the Canfield 47 after the punt. Four straight runs by Adelman netted 29 yards to put the Leopards in the redzone. The Cardinals defense helped contribute to the LHS cause with a pair of offside penalties that setup Louisville 1st-and-Goal at the 2.
Canfield stonewalled runs on the first two downs and the Leopards faced 3rd-and-goal. Going into the bag of tricks, a would be wide receiver reverse touchdown pass attempt was broken up by Pannunzio for the Cardinals. Louisville’s 20 yard field goal attempt sailed wide left with just 1:55 left to play.
Canfield began from their own 20 and the whole stadium assumed the game was heading to overtime with the Cardinals run heavy offense. After all, the Leopards defense had slammed the door on Canfield in the second half to that point. Despite surrendering 235 yards of offense in the first half, Louisville made the necessary second half adjustments to hold the Cardinals to just 51 yards out of the break and prior to the final drive. This included holding Canfield’s stellar rushing attack to just 27 yards on 15 carries.
It all changed in a blink of an eye. The Cardinals netted literally 10 yards on three straight runs to move the sticks on a hotly debated spot. Canfield lined up to run the ball again, but a procedure penalty set them back 5 yards to their own 25 with about a half minute to play. The Cardinals ran a fake sweep to the left and Fletcher barely got his pass away with a Leopard defender closing in. He hit his target in Nick Crawford at midfield who sprinted ahead before Pukys made a touchdown saving tackle at the 13 yard line with 18 seconds to go. In one 62 yard pass play, Canfield doubled their yardage for the half and nearly doubled their passing yardage for the contest.
Two plays later, Fletcher ran straight forward for 11 yards on a draw play centering the ball on the Louisville 2 yard line with 5 ticks left. Schmidt came on for the game-winning field goal in what amounted to the length of an extra point. He kicked it through the uprights as the clock struck triple zero and the Cardinal bench poured onto the field in celebration.
Canfield held a 368-352 edge in total yards for the game which included a 267-124 advantage on the ground. Nick Crawford led the Cardinals with 23 carries for 163 yards and Fletcher carried the ball 15 times for 81 yards. Adelman was the Leopards leading rusher with 22 carries for 67 yards.
Louisville lost despite holding an 18-16 edge in first downs and a 228-101 advantage in yardage through the air. Beamer led all receivers in yardage with 2 catches for 77 yards. Top targets in terms of catches included Rode with 8 receptions for 42 yards and Pukys with 5 catches for 54 yards. Burick also hauled in 2 grabs for 55 yards.
Each team turned the ball over once. Canfield was able to overcome almost a football field’s worth of penalties with 13 for 99. Louisville played a much cleaner contest in surrendering just 25 yards on 2 penalties.
With the loss, the Leopards have now opened the last three seasons with a loss to the Cardinals. The all-time series is now tied 5-5, but Canfield holds a 3-2 edge in games played at Louisville.
UP NEXT: The Leopards will next host the North Canton Hoover Vikings on Friday, September 6 at 7:00 PM.
CARDINALS 24, LEOPARDS 21
L – 10:10 – Davis Burick 40 yd Pass from Colton Jones
Myles Lab PAT
7 plays 65 yds
L – 6:18 – Grayson Beamer 71 yd Pass from Colton Jones
Myles Lab PAT
3 plays 82 yds
C – 1:57 – Nick Crawford 37 yd run
Jonathan Schmidt PAT
11 plays 75 yds
L – 7:56 – Connor Adelman 1 yd run
Myles Lab PAT
5 plays 12 yds
C – 5:50 – Nick Crawford 20 yd run
5 plays 48 yds
C- 0:20 – Nick Crawford 1 yd run
Ethan Fletcher run
9 plays 77 yds
C – 0:00 – Jonathan Schmidt 19 yd Field Goal
7 plays 80 yds
Records: Canfield 1-0, Louisville 0-1
Canfield: 51 carries for 267 yds 3 TD’s
Louisville: 31 carries for 124 yds 1 TD
Canfield: 6 of 8 for 101 yds 0 INT
Louisville: 17 of 28 for 228 yds 2 TD’s 1 INT
Canfield: 13 for 99 yds
Louisville: 2 for 25 yds
3rd Down Conversions:
Canfield: 5 of 12
Louisville: 3 of 9
4th Down Conversions:
Canfield: 1 of 1
Louisville: 2 of 2
Canfield: Nick Crawford: 23 carries for 163 yds 3 TD’s
Ethan Fletcher: 15 carries for 81 yds
Louisville: Connor Adelman: 22 carries for 67 yds 1 TD
Colton Jones: 4 carries for 25 yds
Davis Burick: 3 carries for 11 yds
Canfield: Tony Pannunzio: 3 catches for 12 yds
Chris Sammarone: 2 catches for 27 yds
Nick Crawford: 1 catch for 62 yds
Louisville: Carter Rode: 8 catches for 42 yds
Ryan Pukys: 5 catches for 54 yds
Grayson Beamer: 2 catches for 77 yds 1 TD
Davis Burick: 2 catches for 55 yds 1 TD
Canfield: Ethan Fletcher: 6 of 8 for 101 yds 0 TD 0 INT
Louisville: Colton Jones: 17 of 27 for 228 yds 2 TD’s 1 INT