The run game was a major emphasis for Cascia Hall in a dominating 31-7 win over Bethany in the Class 3A football quarterfinals in Bethany on Friday night.
The Commandos took to the ground early and often, hammering out 245 yards rushing.
“That's what we build our program on offensively,” Cascia Hall coach Joe Medina said after the win. “We start with our defense, and our defense didn't give up a point tonight. We kicked the ball well, which the 47-yard field goal helped a bunch. Then when we get to offense, we're going to grind the ball out and run that clock and that's exactly what we did tonight.”
Running the clock was key to the Commandos, who ran the ball 46 times and totaled 15 first downs in the game.
Cascia Hall senior fullback Hunter Hart opened scoring at 8:48 of the first quarter as the senior leapt over the trenches and into the end zone from two yards out. Erik Testa's kick was good, and the Commandos took a 7-0 lead.
The runner drew upon his experience against the Bronchos in last year's quarterfinals matchup to help him this season.
“Last year they just dove at my knees every single play,” Hart said. “So I knew… It was a one-yard run I think or something like that. I knew they were going to dive so I just had to jump for the end zone.”
The ground success continued for Cascia Hall in the second quarter when Abrm McQuarters bounced a run to the outside and cut in for the eight-yard touchdown.
Cascia made it 17-0 to close out the first half when Testa hit a 47-yard field goal down the middle of the uprights with 1:18 left in the second quarter.
Bethany's offense could not convert on third down resulting in just one first down in the first half and only four all game.
Bethany's points came on an exciting 65-yard punt return for a touchdown by senior Grayson Haws. The 5-10 145 pound wide receiver and defensive back field the punt at the 35, broke to the outside and followed his blocks to pay dirt.
Cascia Hall answered back with a 15 yard fumble recovery on a Bethany fake punt when Danny Brennan scooped up the loose ball and gave the Commandos a commanding lead.
The visitors capped off a solid rushing performance with an 11-yard touchdown scamper by McQuarters with 2:58 left in the game.
Cascia Hall moved to 13-0 on the season and brushed off any distant memories of their 9-7 defeat at the hands of the Bronchos (9-3) in last year's quarterfinals.
“Well, you know… Yes, I'm not going to lie to you it was disappointing to lose last year over here and we didn't play very well,” Medina said. “So, I told the kids, ‘play with emotion but don't get caught up in the emotion of you know, trying to get revenge. Let's just play our game.' Which you saw tonight. We played a pretty good Cascia football game right there.”
Cascia Hall will move on to face Heritage Hall in the Class 3A semifinals.