On Saturday, Sept. 14, the Cardinals faced off at Wickes Stadium against the Tiffin Dragons in their first home game of the season and defeated them, 35-20. The win moves them to 2-0 this season.
While Tiffin was given the ball due to a fumbled punt return, the Cardinal defense was quick to redeem it and get it to offense to push down the field.
The first quarter saw one Saginaw Valley 34-yard touchdown from wide receiver Marcus Edmonson, along with the first of five kicks from Connor Luksic to make the score 7-0.
“This defense has been playing together for three to four years, we’re very experienced,” said defensive tackle Heath Williams. “We have a ton of chemistry. I believe in us and that we can achieve everything we’ve put our minds to this year.”
Tiffin’s next possession ended in an attempted 22-yard field goal, blocked by Dillon Webb and returned 87 yards by Justin Whitted for another touchdown. Luksic made his second extra point. He credits some of that success to a change in practice.
“Last year, the kickers didn’t see a lot of time spent practicing with the rest of the team,” Luksic said. “This year, we’ve done a much better job of integrating our practice with theirs, and I’m pleased with how it’s turning out.”
In the last four minutes of the second quarter, Saginaw Valley offense doubled its lead to 28-0 on a scoreless Tiffin.
Ryan Conklin found wide receiver Casey Williams with 3:41 on the clock for a 22-yard touchdown, turned around with 1:15 to go and found Chad Gailliard for another 37 yards out.
Running back Nate McCrary believes the team is stronger than ever.
“We work on consistency,” McCrary said. “We treat every day like a game – if you see someone slacking, you pick them up. Coach Brady’s taught us that it’s always the little things that make the biggest differences. He’s instilled in us a different mindset – we’re disciplined, we’re sound.”
The third quarter saw no change in the overall score. The Dragons made their first touchdown and missed the extra point in the beginning of the fourth quarter, quickly followed by another, to trim the Cardinals’ lead 28-13.
Conklin scored again with a run in from a yard out to end a 10-play, 75-yard play. The score sat at 35-13 until Tiffin snuck in a third touchdown with 22 seconds left on the clock, making the final score 35-20.
Saginaw Valley will have its next home game Saturday, Sept. 21, at 1:30 p.m. against Michigan Tech.