Tigers bounce off, over Cardinals

By Reggie Ellis

Whether it was fumbles, kickoffs or penalties the ball always seemed to bounce the right way for the Woodlake Tigers in a 43-14 win over the Lindsay Cardinals.

It started with the opening kickoff when Woodlake's Carlos Acosta kicked the first of three touchbacks, making the Cardinals start at their own 20 yard line. Woodlake also helped their field position by capitalizing on turnovers. The Tigers forced seven fumbles and recovered three.

Woodlake head coach Rick Ruiz said he wanted to get quarterback Matt McMillan more involved in the offense coming into the game. McMillan responded by passing for three touchdowns without an interception and was 6-11 for 69 yards. McMillan threw all three touchdowns to tight end Johnny Gomez, who always seemed to be open and lead the team with 59 yards on 12 catches. McMillan also ran for 94 yards and another touchdown.

&#8220I was in kind of a zone,” McMillan said after the game. &#8220Our running game really came together tonight and gave us a lot of yards.”

The other half of the running game was Acosta. Coming back from a leg injury in the second week of the season, Acosta ran all over the Cardinals defense with 161 yards on 16 carries. In all, the team rushed for 329 yards. Woodlake didn't punt the ball until midway through the fourth quarter.

&#8220It's nice to get one of these games where things kind of go our way,” Woodlake head coach Rick Ruiz said. &#8220I always tell the kids if you put in the hard work, eventually you'll get some lucky breaks.”

As lucky as the Tigers were, the opposite could be said of the Cardinals. Despite Jordan Lara's 80-yard touchdown bomb to Octavio Lemus on the first play from scrimmage, Lindsay would not score again until 2:19 left in the first half when they were already down four touchdowns.

&#8220We seem to have problems at the beginning of the games,” Lindsay head coach Paul Dieterle said. &#8220We get off to a slow start and find ourselves in a hole. Once we get going, we can keep it close. These kids never give up, we just need to find a way to start better.”

On offense the Cardinals repeatedly fumbled the snap. Each time the Cardinals seemed to gain some momentum from a big play, a defender would punch out the ball from behind and Woodlake would recover the fumble. Down 40-14 in the third quarter, Lara hit Lemus on a screen pass and he ran down the sidelines inside Woodlake's 20 yard line when a Tiger defender punched out the ball and Woodlake recovered on the 11 yard line.

On defense, the Cardinals were offsides at least once every drive putting the Tigers in the first and short situations, making it easier to get critical first downs.

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