NORTHERN CAMBRIA — Northern Cambria rolled out the welcome wagon for Bishop Carroll’s first Heritage Conference football game and then proceeded to run over the Huskies with it.
The Colts scored two touchdowns 23 seconds apart in the first four minutes, then rode a wave of big plays on both sides of the ball to a season-opening 40-7 victory on Friday night at Duffy Daugherty Stadium.
“We were all fired up, reading to go,” Colts senior Owen Prasko said. “They said they were going to come in here and beat us. They said they were used to playing bigger competition.”
Prasko scored twice — a 3-yard run that staked the hosts to a 28-0 halftime lead and later juking a defender at midfield on a medium-range pass and then taking it up the sideline for 68-yard play that accounted for senior quarterback Mike Hoover’s third touchdown strike of the game.
Hoover finished with 157 yards through the air. Isaac Noll added 95 yards and a touchdown on the ground for Northern Cambria, which scored three times on plays covering at least 28 yards.
Noll also had a 68-yard run that would have brought the running clock into play early in the third quarter had the conversion been made, but the touchdown was negated by a holding penalty.
Northern Cambria rolled up 406 yards of total offense despite turning the ball over three times and fumbling on six occasions.
“You can’t have those types of turnovers and win games. Fortunately, we were able to put points on the board, and our defense was playing phenomenal,” Northern Cambria coach Sam Shutty said.
After forcing a three-and-out to start the game, the Colts offense got right to work, as Noll broke off a 29-yard run on its first play. Then Prasko, hemmed in, switched sides of the field and took the ball 17 yards to the Carroll 10.
One fourth down from inside the 1, Noll punched it in at the 8:35 mark.
Northern Cambria’s Gavin Dumm pounced on a fumble at the Bishop Carroll 28 on the next play from scrimmage, then did the honors for the Colts by getting wide open for a pass that went the distance on first down.
It was 14-0 just 3:48 into the contest.
“Our energy coming into this game was really good. We were really excited,” Noll said.
Bishop Carroll never recovered. The Huskies, who played predominantly a Class 4A-3A schedule the last two years in the Mountain League and played larger schools in the Laurel Highlands Conference before that, got their only points on T.J. Novak’s 1-yard plunge at 8:40 of the third quarter after Novak intercepted Hoover at the Colt 34 and returned it to the 21.
“Tough night for us,” first-year Bishop Carroll coach Bubba Fatula said. “That was key, them jumping out to that 14-0 lead. We just could not get out of the hole. Our backs were against our own end zone the whole first half.”
The Huskies were held to minus-24 yards over the first two quarters.
“I think we underestimated them a little bit,” Novak said.
Northern Cambria’s defensive effort was so dominating that when Colts reserve running back Xander Dolansky broke loose on an 82-yard gallop late in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring, it almost doubled Bishop Carroll’s total yardage in the game.
While Northern Cambria was making big plays on offense, it also was doing it on the other side of the ball. The Colts made 15 stops in the Carroll backfield and registered a pair of takeaways themselves.
“Our defense was really good. Our defense gave our offense a lot of chances,” Hoover said. “I think we get a shutout if I don’t give up that interception so deep in our territory.”
“Everything good we did just boosted us and made it even better,” Dumm said.
The only first down the Colts allowed in the first half was on a defensive personal foul. Northern Cambria raised the lead to 21 points midway through the second quarter when P.J. Copeland took a wide receiver screen 17 yards to the end zone.
Prasko’s 3-yard touchdown run with just 41 seconds left in the first half after Noll’s 22-yard punt return to the Carroll 37 made it a four-touchdown difference.
Northern Cambria is trying to bounce back from a 4-7 campaign. Winning the opener so convincingly while feeling they still left plays on the field was an encouraging way for the Colts to start out 2020.
“There’s a lot of things we can take away from this,” Shutty said. “I feel good about the scoreboard, but I told the guys, ‘I love you tonight, but I’m going to hate you on film tomorrow.’”
Bishop Carroll is playing a Heritage Conference football schedule for one season only. Cambria Heights joins the Heritage Conference for next season.