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Cards, Raptors open with a thriller


October 16, 2020

Dave Harwig

Cromwell-Wright's Zevvus Smith carries the ball during Friday night's football game with Carlton-Wrenshall. A back-and-forth game eventually went the Cardinals' way as they scored a late touchdown for a 15-14 win.

Friday night's football matchup between the Cardinals and the Raptors resembled a heavyweight boxing fight. Both teams dug their heels in and the outcome was in doubt until Cromwell-Wright managed a late touchdown to win the game 15-14.

"It was a great back and forth defensive battle," said Cards coach Jeff Gronner. "Both teams had trouble moving and sustaining drives throughout the game and their offense and defensive lines were very big and hard for us to handle at times."

The winning drive was aided by an unfortunate penalty on Carlton/Wrenshall, who was called for roughing the passer. That set up a first down situation for the Cards.

"I was surprised by the flag that was thrown on third and 9 for roughing the passer," said Raptor coach Jeremy Zywicki. "I watched the film after the game and our player hit their QB right after the ball left his hands. It shouldn't have been a penalty. If that flag wasn't thrown, it would've been fourth and long from around the 40-yard line. Instead it was first and 10 from our 25."

That was enough to keep the drive moving, allowing the Cards senior quarterback Jaeger Goranson to take control.

"Goranson orchestrated the game-winning drive with his throwing and running ability and he made a great play on the game tying touchdown pass," Gronner said.

The tying score came with 23 seconds left when Goranson hit sophomore Travis Young for a 13-yard touchdown pass. Senior place kicker Dany Butera booted the extra point kickfor the win.

While the game could have gone either way, Zywicki felt the Cardinals played very well.

"They outplayed us in the trenches and their offensive and defensive lines played physical," said Zywicki. "Offensively they pushed us around and created holes. Defensively they stood us up and made plays."

A big key to the Cards win was the play of running back and middle linebacker Zevvus Smith. He had a solid game on offense, but defensively he was everywhere on the field. Smith finished with 19 tackles and two interceptions to help lead his team to the win.

"Their middle linebacker and running back Zevvus Smith played a heck of a football game," said Zywicki. "He gave us problems all night long at his line backing position. He did a great job reading quickly and filling holes. He is a very nice player."

Gronner was also complimentary of the Raptors and their efforts in a game where neither team could establish much momentum.

"Their offense and defensive lines were very big and hard for us to handle at times," Gronner said. "They had a couple of kids inside on the line who are very good interior defensive linemen that made plays for them."

Despite the game being close, Zywicki felt his team could have played better in the loss.

Dave Harwig

The Cardinals' Jaeger Goranson carries the ball during Friday night's game with Carlton/Wrenshall.

"I don't want to take anything away from Cromwell because they were a much more physical team than us Friday night, but we did not play up to our potential. I was very disappointed in our overall performance," said Zywicki. "We do, however, have a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball. Overall, we have a lot of work to do. We did not perform to where I thought we could. We have some adjustments to make on both sides of the football."

Regardless of the outcome of the game, fans, players and coaches alike were just happy to have football on Friday nights again in the Northland.

"It was great to be out on a Friday night coaching a football game and seeing the red and white uniforms of the Cardinals compete," said Gronner. "The weather made it feel like a first game of the season as well."


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