Tortello leads Pride past Cambridge-Salem
CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. — While Saturday's football showdown between Cambridge-Salem and Holy Trinity didn't have much bearing in the standings, there was a whole lot to play for between the lines.
The Indians came in as the No. 5 ranked team in Class C, while the Pride were ranked No. 7 in Class B, so both teams were determined to make a statement.
In the end, Holy Trinity won the heavyweight battle, avenging last year's loss to Cambridge, with a 49-28 victory Saturday afternoon.
Pride quarterback Joe Tortello controlled play and produced some big plays under center. The senior threw for 345 yards and five touchdowns.
"Our strategy was to go at him as quick as we could and bring our defensive backs up and try to take away the short ball," said Cambridge coach Doug Luke. "We did quite respectable on that part, but he scrambled, he makes really good reads and he's got really good receivers. There were times when we were chasing him all over and he still found receivers."
The Indians won the toss and elected to receive in the first half, hoping to jump on Holy Trinity quickly. Cambridge drove into Pride territory with a series of runs, but on the fifth play of the drive, the team got called for holding and that effectively stalled their drive.
When Holy Trinity took over just outside it's own red zone, it was quickly called for a penalty that pushed the ball to Pride's 11-yard line. From there, Tortello connected on three straight completions to approach midfield, and following a run, found Noah Foster on a beautiful 57-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline.
Cambridge had the ball at the start of the second well-into Holy Trinity territory. The Indians were on the Pride's 20-yard line on a 4th-and-2 play, but were called for a false start, pushing them back five yards. With seven yards to go for the first down, Cambridge quarterback Jacob Ruggles connected with Calvin Schneider, but the play fell short of the first down and ball was turned over on downs.
On the first play from scrimmage after the turnover, Tortello connected with Nacier Hundley for an 80-yard touchdown pass.
Cambridge answered back on its next drive with its run-heavy attack, meant to wear down the opponent. Three different backs handled the running duties and Kaedin Ogilvie punched in the Indians' first touchdown of the game from five yards, with less than four to play in the half.
Even with the positive momentum for Cambridge, the Pride answered right back with another Tortello touchdown pass, the second connection with Foster to find the end zone.
Whenever the Indians looked to make a move, Holy Trinity was always there to counter Saturday afternoon.
"They're really athletic. They have about six or seven kids who are more athletic than anybody we have," Luke said. "They took advantage of that and have a quarterback who can find them."
After taking a 13-point lead into halftime, the Pride built their lead once play resumed. Holy Trinity started feeding running back Rodney Parker the ball and the junior drove his team down field with a couple strong runs, before pushing in an eight-yard touchdown run.
"Rodney is a workhorse for us," Tortello said. "[Offensive line] coach [Ray] Moran and our offensive line have really been on him and they've done a great job."
Cambridge looked to be in business on its next drive and made it to the Pride 30-yard line with a great series of runs. After two consecutive false start penalties created a long-yardage situation, the Indians were forced to pass and pressure caused Ruggles to throw off his back foot. Hundley took advantage and intercepted the pass, bringing it all the way for a touchdown.
Schneider ran in a score for Cambridge on the next drive, and after Bradley Rowland picked off Tortello on the ensuing drive, the Indians looked to cut down the lead more.
Cambridge couldn't get past midfield through and had to punt, where punter Brian Hall pinned Holy Trinity on its own 5-yard line.
Two plays later, Tortello found Foster again and 95 yards later, the Pride added onto their lead.
The Indians' Hunter Day saw some rushes late in the game and punched in a pair, including a 65-yard touchdown, where he broke a tackle and ran down the left sideline.
Despite some strong play late, the deficit was too much for Cambridge to overcome.
While the passing game never got going, the Indians ran the ball well all day long. Schneider led the way with 167 yards, while Ogilvie and Day had 107 and 96 yards respectively.
"We were hoping to tire [Holy Trinity] out a little bit by going and going and going and we did part of that," Luke said.
Even in the losing effort, going against a team like Holy Trinity, who along with Glens Falls is a favorite to win the Section II championship, gives the Indians big-game experience they'll need once the playoffs roll around.
"We talked about this game being a meaningless game in the standings, but a very important game in our schedule, just to see what we are made of," Luke said. "I would rather play games like this every week, than play against a team that we win 50-0. This a lot more fun in our estimation."
Cambridge drops to 4-1 and is back in action Saturday on the road against Whitehall at 1 p.m.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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