United thunders past Cambridge
CAMBRIDGE -- On the strength of a balanced rushing attack and a suffocating defense, the United Red Storm improved to 2-0 with a 45-0 thrashing of the Cambridge Vikings Friday night, Sept. 4.
The game was not that close. United threw away a scoring chance in the Cambridge red zone in the first half and the Vikings mounted only one serious scoring threat, reaching the Red Storm 21 late in the first quarter.
That threat was extinguished on an interception by Aaron McDonald, one of several big plays the senior made on both sides of the ball.
The biggest of McDonald's plays came on the ensuing Cambridge drive. On a fourth-and-one at the Red Storm 34-yard line, the Vikings ran a sweep to their left, two yards in from the sideline,
United sophomore Christian Schrader blew up Viking senior running back Patrick Morey, forcing a fumble. The ball flew directly into McDonald's hands at the sideline - in full stride - and 65 yards later the Red Storm was ahead 14-0 before converting the two-point try.
"That took something out of their sails," said United coach Tim Engebretson.
A humble McDonald said the he was in the right place at the right time.
"I was deep, and outside linebacker Christian Schrader made a big hit and the ball popped out. It really just went into my hands. It just happened," McDonald said. "I have never returned a fumble for a touchdown."
McDonald ended the game with the two turnovers and six rushes for 86 yards.
"I worked hard all summer to get quicker and stronger. I did a lot of strength and core training," he said.
The Red Storm opened the scoring on the first of Adam Olin's three touchdown runs with 5:47 to play in the first. Olin swept right on first and goal from the five. He gave up a couple of yards to pressure, then cut the corner at the last moment and dove for the pylon. United led 8-0.
After McDonald's fumble return, United stopped Cambridge after a short drive and took over at the the Red Storm 28. Eight plays later, Olin got the right corner again and raced in for a 24-yard score with 2:02 to play in the half. The score gave United a 24-0 lead and put the Red Storm senior over the 100-yard mark. He ended with 13 carries for 121 yards.
After a three-and-out to start the second half, United embarked on a 71-yard drive capped by Olin's third score - a crossbuck dive from the one-yard line to make it 31-0 on James Brownlee's kick. While Olin got the score, the play of the drive was a 59-yard scamper by McDonald, who was cut off just before paydirt at the Viking four-yard line.
Despite the lopsided score, Engebretson gave credit to the Vikings.
"They played very well, especially early. It was nip and tuck there for a while," he said.
McDonald said the team was not going to let up.
"A couple of years ago we were up 18 at halftime and they came back and won. We didn't want that to happen again," he said.
Engebretson cleared the bench the rest of the game, providing a pair of highlights for a couple of sophomores. Jonah Armstrong broke through the Cambridge line on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 19-yard touchdown run. On the next Viking drive, United junior Cody Battin led a jail break penetration of the Cambridge line and took down quarterback Clayton Carr for his first career sack.
Schrader scored the Red Storm's remaining touchdown on a 5-yard run late in the third quarter.
The Viking offense was led by senior Patrick Morey who gained 75 yards on 17 attempts.
The Red Storm out-gained the Vikings 348-102 overall. Cambridge used multiple formations to try to find a gap in the United defense, including a four-wide receiver set. But the Vikings could only complete 4-of-14 for 32 yards with two picks through the air.
Red Storm junior guard Bryce Burns was part of the unit that opened the holes for Olin and McDonald.
"It felt good. It was amazing. We played good football tonight and everybody worked hard," Burns said.
The Red Storm host powerful Stark County Friday in a clash of unbeatens. Last year, the teams went to overtime in monsoon-like rain.
"They are a quality team, runner up in state," Engebretson said. "We will play the best we can and be ready. We are playing the best defense we have played in a couple of years. It will be fun."