Cards win big
Dougherty leads team to second straight victory in home opener
September 12, 2005 —
The SVSU Cardinals won their home opener Saturday, a 29-3 defeat of Wayne State, improving their record to 2-0 on the season.
The team was ready despite a two-week layoff, one that sophomore quarterback Chris Dougherty described as "feeling like we were back at (training) camp." The Cards had a bye week last week after their come-from-behind victory over Northwood Aug. 28.
"You're always worried about that week off, and what's going to happen," head coach Randy Awrey said after the game. The week off, however, allowed Dougherty and the offense to come together more.
"We were much more comfortable," said Dougherty, who went 23-32 for 319 yards with three touchdowns in the win. "It took us a while to get going, but we're starting to get it, I think."
Dougherty's start against Northwood was his first action in five years after he went to Chile as a Mormon missionary and had to redshirt last year. While he picked things up in the second half of that game, including throwing the winning touchdown score with 23 seconds left, he said he finally felt comfortable under the helm. Awrey noticed it as well.
"The O-line gave him great time," Awrey said. "He had time to sit back there and look at his second and third reads. He took his time through the progressions, and did a nice job running the offense."
The Cardinals struck first when Dougherty hooked up with senior Stan Spencer on a 43-yard touchdown pass with 2:38 to go in the first quarter. A fake extra point attempt was stopped by the Warriors, giving the Cardinals a 6-0 lead.
The SVSU offense gave Wayne State all the chances they could get to take the lead, turning the ball over on three consecutive possessions in the second quarter. The defense held the Warriors to just a field goal, the only points they would score all game.
"We got a lot of new guys playing offense, so we know we have to step up," senior lineman Dan Fodrocy acknowledged.
And step up they have, allowing just 10 points in the first two games this season.
"We believe we're good enough that we should have that mentality that we're going to shut everybody out," Fodrocy added. "We have to come out and play like we're going to shut them out."
SVSU was able to capitalize on a Warriors fumble at the Wayne State 48. Dougherty found his co-hero of the Northwood game, sophomore wide receiver Rick Cottengim, for a 22-yard score with little less than a minute left in the half.
"He was the player of the game, I think," Dougherty said of Cottengim, who finished with eight catches for 123 yards and the touchdown. "He was all over the place, finding holes, and catching high ones I was throwing to him. He had a great game."
The Wayne State fumble was one of three forced by the Cardinals.
"We really try to go out and make plays as opposed to just stopping them," Fodrocy said. "We have the talent to go out there and force turnovers."
The Cardinals had four running backs carry the ball at least seven times in the game. Senior Logan Barnhart led the way with 73 yards on 13 carries, while junior Edric Prim produced 38 yards on nine carries. Senior Justin Barcey added 35 yards on eight carries, and Birch Run product senior Bart Bennett ran seven times for 26 yards to run out the clock in the fourth quarter.
Junior Bob Awrey added six catches for 56 yards, but that wasn't the only highlight for the Awrey family in the game. Freshman Tony Awrey, Bob's brother, caught his first pass for the Cardinals - for a 16-yard touchdown.
"I'm happy he scored, but I'm happy for whoever catches the football," said coach Awrey, who gave Tony a bear hug when he got back to the sideline. "But I have to keep it professional. We have 100 kids on this team, and Tony just happens to have the same last name as me. I have to take that approach, because they have to earn it just like someone else."
The Awreys were not the only family getting involved during the game. Dougherty completed three passes to his identical twin Joe for 26 yards.
"That was fun," Chris said. "I hadn't thrown to him in, I don't know, a couple years. It was a lot of fun throwing to my brother."
Senior preseason All-American linebacker John DiGiorgio led the way for the defense with 15 tackles, a forced fumble, and a sack. Fodrocy added a sack and a fumble recovery to go with four tackles.
The kicking game was also strong for the Cardinals.
Sophomore kicker Bobby Belmonte was perfect on his three field goal attempts and two extra points, and both of senior punter Dustin Esslin's kicks ended up inside the 20-yard line.
The Cardinals racked up 512 total yards.
While the game was not necessarily a blowout, Awrey was able to rotate many of his players in and out of the game. The rotations helped in the heat, as SVSU's depth was certainly a factor in the second half.
"We have a lot of young good talent," he said. "The plan was to rotate of a lot of the personnel. The heat was part of that plan, but also because we have a lot of good young players."
Awrey said being at home also helped. The home team is able to dress all the players on its roster, while the visiting team is only able to travel with 55 players.
"We went deeper than our traveling 55," Awrey added. "We went into our top 60, 65 players."
Dougherty connected on passes to nine different receivers, while seven different players logged a carry.
"We had a lot of guys going in and out; it was a hot day," Dougherty said. "We've got the guys to do it."
SVSU's roster is in the triple digits, but about 40 of those players are either on the practice squad or will be redshirting this fall, meaning they cannot play a down.
Regardless of the loss, Wayne State came away impressing the Cardinals. Last year the Warriors lost 45-0 at home to SVSU and were beaten 70-3 by Northwood in route to a 1-9 season. In coach Paul Winters' second season, he has the Warriors better prepared than last season.
"We were watching the tape, and we knew, this is not the Wayne State of old," Fodrocy said, noting the Warriors 6-0 halftime lead over Northwood the week before. "They can play."
"They are a much better football team than they have been," he said. "They've got enough talent that they're going to beat some teams."
The Cardinals host Findlay University this Saturday at Wickes Memorial Stadium at noon. The Oilers, 2-0 in the GLIAC and 3-0 overall, are coming off a 40-37 double-overtime win over Northern Michigan.
Last season the Cardinals traveled to Findlay and won 38-24.