MINERAL RIDGE — In the past, Cardinal Mooney head coach Carl Pelini has said this is a game the Cardinals likely would have given up.
This time, however, Mooney had a second-half shutout and a strong offensive finish en route to his first win of the season, a 31-14 decision over Lake Catholic on Saturday night at Joe Lane Sports Complex in Mineral Ridge. .
“A lot of resilience. We made mistakes on both sides of the ball – attack took defense and vice versa – but I think eventually these guys are starting to learn how to win and finish football games. It’s a game we probably would have found a way to lose, but we are growing and maturing as a program. Good to see us finish it.
The teams battled mostly evenly in the first half, as Mooney (1-1) struck first on a 4-yard run from Adyn Paige before Lake Catholic (0-2) responded on a 22-yard pass from Frankie Trinetti to Aidan Fitzgerald.
The Cardinals regained a 14-7 advantage when Ashton O’Brien hit Alec Delsignore for 13 yards, but a long kickoff return set up a quick 14-yard strike from Trinetti to Fitzgerald on the journey that followed.
Mooney was able to move the ball quickly into Cougar territory, however, and Nick Pregibon connected on a 27-yard field goal to give the Cardinals a 17-14 lead at intermission. Pregibon also pulled off a perfect 4-for-4 with extra points in the win.
From there, however, Mooney’s defense tightened, even in disadvantageous situations. Lake started his first two possessions in Mooney territory on an interception and a punt return, but came up empty-handed both times as the Cardinals forced a missed field goal and turnover on tries. Lake never really threatened the rest of the game.
In all, Mooney gave up just 174 yards on offense and just 27 yards rushing. After halftime, the Cardinals held Lake Catholic to -2 yards rushing. The secondary, meanwhile, gave up 99 yards and two scores in the first half before allowing just 48 yards in the second half.
Mooney also forced four fumbles and recovered two. Will Desmond and Todd White proposed the recoveries.
“Just put our eyes in the right place,” Pelini assessed his team’s defense in the second half. “At the start of the game, we were just a little soft in our run defense, and it wasn’t about doing anything different. It was just to remind them where their keys and eyes were supposed to be. Once we started performing, we started playing better.
Mooney’s offense didn’t fare much better than its counterpart until the fourth quarter, when the Cardinals coughed up two turnovers in addition to three punts in their first five possessions of the second half.
However, over time, explosive plays, especially in the air, allowed Mooney to land the necessary backstabs.
With about 3:25 left, O’Brien hit Delsignore for a 60-yard gain at Lake Catholic’s 1-yard line, then O’Brien found Desmond for a 3-yard touchdown pass a few plays later. It capped off a workout that began at Mooney 12.
After the defense forced a turnover on the downs, Delsignore provided the exclamation point with a 25-yard run to pay for the dirt.
O’Brien finished with 230 passing yards and two touchdowns on a 13-for-23 night, while Paige rushed for 73 yards and a score on 19 carries. Delsignore caught five receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown.
“Just stick to (the game plan) – nothing really different. We had our game plan and we didn’t change anything. said Pelini. “We didn’t change much at half time with blocking patterns, but we had chances in the first half, and they added a bit of pressure. (Lake Catholic) are a very strong football team. disciplined so we knew we were going to struggle to make big plays because it’s their philosophy that you have to smack the ball so the fact that we were able to make big plays in the second half was good to see .
The Cardinals host Chaney 2-0 on Friday.
AT THE MINERAL CREST
Catholic Lake 0 14 0 0–14
Cardinal Mooney 7 10 0 14–31
First Attempts: CL: 9, CM: 16; Rushes/Yards Rushing: CL: 22-27, CM: 36-130; Passing yards: CL: 147, CM: 230; Comp-Att-Int: CL: 16-28-0, CM: 13-23-1; Penalties: CL: 5-69, CM: 5-60; Fumbles-Lost: CL: 4-2, CM: 3-1; Total Yards: CL: 174, CM: 360; Offensive games: CL: 50, CM: 59
Passing: LC: Frankie Trinetti 16-28, 147 yards, 2 TDs; WC: Ashton O’Brien 13-23, 230 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: LC: Gregory Thomas 10 chars, 16 yards; CM: Adyn Paige 19 char., 73 yards, 1 TD
Receive: LC: Nick Brandt 8 rec., 62 yards; TJ Gibbons 6 rec., 55 yards; Aidan Fitzgerald 4 rec., 50 yards, 2 touchdowns; CM: Alec Delsignore 5 rec., 119 yards, 1 TD
MC: Adyn Paige, 4-yard run (Nick Pregibon PAT), 1:34
LC: Aidan Fitzgerald, 22-yard pass from Frankie Trinetti (PAT miss), 11:54
CM: Alec Delsignore, 13-yard pass from Ashton O’Brien (Pregibon PAT), 2:03
LC: Fitzgerald, 14-yard pass from Trinetti (Fitzgerald 2-point pass from Trinetti), 0:50
CM: Pregibon, 27-yard field goal, 0:00
MC: Will Desmond, 3-yard pass from O’Brien (Pregibon PAT), 3:11
CM: Delsignore, 25-yard run (Pregibon PAT), 2:14