DRYDEN — The Dryden Lions could not secure their first win of the season Saturday night, as they fell to the Newark Valley Cardinals, 35-7, at Dryden High School.
The Cardinals remained in control from the jump, as they opened the scoring with 10:16 remaining in the first quarter with a seven-yard rushing touchdown from Landon Spoonhower to put the Cardinals up early.
The Lions’ first possession would result in a blocked punt from the Cardinals, which secured them outstanding field position on the Lions’ 29-yard line.
It only took one play for the Cardinals to go up two scores, as Cardinals quarterback Mike Wandell found John Mincher for the 29-yard passing touchdown.
The Lions had an opportunity to get on the board their following possession as they moved the chains and had a big play on a screen pass from quarterback Ryan Wiser to Colton Dow. The Cardinals would hold though, and eventually force the Lions to turn the ball over on downs.
The red zone is not the best area for mistakes. Conversions in the red zone often determine games, and according to Lions head coach Justin Wood, it was the little things that the Lions needed to do better to find the end zone.
“It is tough when you get down in the red zone a couple times and can’t convert,” Wood said. “We had some drops on passes, we had some times where we didn’t block correctly.”
The first play of the second quarter resulted in a bad snap from the Lions which resulted in a safety from the Cardinals to go up 15-0. It not only put the Cardinals up more, but it secured them another possession.
The Cardinals would capitalize, again in the air. A big gain on a pass from Wandell to Spoonhower put the Cardinals in position to score.
Wandell would then scramble for the 5-yard quarterback keeper to put the Lions up 21-0. The extra point made it 22-0.
The Lions would once again find themselves in the red zone following an encroachment penalty from the Cardinals, but the Lions could not convert and turned the ball over on downs.
The Cardinals attack through the air continued in their following possession, as Wandell found Joey Sherwood for a huge gain and a touchdown to put the Cardinals up 28-0.
Another score mid-way through the third quarter opened the flood gates for the Cardinals as they were up 35-0.
Though down big, the Lions did not quit. The fourth quarter from the Lions was the best quarter they played all game. With 6:29 remaining, the Lions would finally find the scoreboard as Dow flew through a hole up the middle of the field and score to thin the Cardinals lead to 28.
On the Cardinals next possession, the Lions would force a fumble that was picked up by Ceon Miles III who nearly ran the entire length of the field for a touchdown before he was tripped up by the Cardinals.
The Lions would fail to convert for the touchdown, but the fight was still there, something Wood saw from his players.
“There’s kids I know won’t give up, their body will give up before they do,” Wood said. “That is the kind of core group of kids that we are trying to build around.”
Though the Lions have not found the win column yet this year, the heart of the Lions remains there and Wood is confident in his players.
“This is a group of kids who, despite not winning a game this year, they keep trying and they keep leaning on each other,” Wood said. “That is something that we will build on.”
Next up for the Lions is their final home game of the season as they host the Waverly Wolverines Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Marathon at Moravia, 4:30 p.m.
Chittenango at Cortland, 5 p.m.
Trumansburg at Dryden, 6:30 p.m.
Homer at Cortland, 6:30 p.m.
Dryden at Groton, 6:30 p.m.
Auburn at Cortland, 6:30 p.m.
Cortland at Auburn, 3:30 p.m.