FIRST QUARTER TD GRAB … Stryker’s tight end Elijah Juillard pulls down a three-yard touchdown catch over the top of the Danbury defender. (PHOTOS BY RICH HARDING, STAFF)
By: Daniel Cooley
STRYKER – Stryker broke open a close ball game with two late touchdowns to claim a 46-22 win over Danbury.
According to Stryker head coach Kent Holsopple, the win puts Stryker (5-3 overall) into the Northern 8 Conference playoffs.
As it now stands Stryker is in fourth place. That means that the Panthers would travel to top seed Toledo Christian, which beat Stryker a few weeks ago, 56-22.
“Toledo Christian is really good and they are number one for a reason,”Holsopple said. “But we’ll go over there and give it our best shot.”
In Friday night’s game, Danbury narrowed Stryker’s lead to 32-22 with eight minutes left in the game on quarterback Jacob Mischler’s two-yard run, followed by Guy Maltese’s two-point conversion run.
Undaunted, Stryker came right back and scored with 6:54 left on quarterback Jacob Cadwell’s 18-yard TD pass to Gavin LaBo. That gave Stryker some cushion with a 38-22 lead.
After quickly stopping Danbury on downs on its own 34-yard line Stryker scored in just two plays, tallying a touchdown on Levi Barnum’s 25-yard run. Cadwell then hit Mateo Villanueva on the two-point play to put Stryker up 46-22.
Next the Stryker defense came up big again stopping the Lakers on fourth down and goal from the Stryker three-yard line on an incomplete pass with just under three minutes to go.
Barnum, who rushed for 112 yards on just 10 carries, went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season on his touchdown run. He is the first Stryker player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
“It’s awesome and it’s because of a great group of guys in front of me,” Barnum said. “If you get 1,000 yards, 75 percent of it is because of the guys (blocking) in front of me.”
Barnum had a limited number of carries because he played with a knee brace to protect one leg.
Because of it, Stryker threw the ball a lot more than normal and Cadwell had a big day. He completed 17 of 20 passes for 251 yards and five touchdown passes. The five TD passes was a career high and four different receivers caught TD passes.
“It’s the offensive line blocking for me and our receivers being playmakers,” Cadwell said. “I just throw it up there and let the playmakers make plays.”
Holsopple stated that there is another reason why Cadwell had such a great game passing the ball.
“Caddie puts in the extra work at practice and this game was a reflection on how hard he works,” Holsopple said.
Elijah Juillard caught the first TD pass from Cadwell, from four yards out, to put Stryker up 6-0.
Danbury quickly answered to tie the game at 6-6 on Maltese’s four-yard run.
Stryker came right back to take the lead, 14-6 on Villanueva’s four-yard run and Cadwell’s two-point pass to Barnum. The touchdown drive took just two plays and was set up by a blocked Danbury punt at the Danbury 14.
MAKING HISTORY … Levi Barnum became the first Stryker player to rush for 1,000 yards after rushing for 112 yards on the night.
Danbury potentially threatened to tie the game, moving to a first down and goal from the Stryker nine-yard line. But Stryker’s Juillard ended the threat by intercepting Mischler’s pass in the end zone.
The Stryker offense then drove 80 yards in six plays to take a 20-6 lead. The final 38 yards of the drive was a 38-yard TD pass from Cadwell to Barnum.
Stryker then threatened to take a 20-point lead at halftime after blocking another Danbury punt. First, Juillard caught a 23-yard pass from Cadwell to give Stryker a first and goal from the three-yard line.
But the Danbury defense stood tall and held Stryker out of the end zone.
After stopping Stryker on three straight running plays inside the one-yard line, a five-yard penalty moved Stryker back to the six-yard line and Barnum was stopped at the three-yard line on fourth down.
Stryker took the second half kickoff and drove 58 yards on nine plays. Barnum ended the drive by catching a nine-yard TD pass from Cadwell, putting Stryker up 26-6. However, Danbury wouldn’t go away.
Mischler scampered in from 46 yards out and Maltese’s two-point run cut Stryker’s lead to 26-14.
After Villanueva caught a 16-yard TD pass from Cadwell, Mischler’s short TD run, and Maltese’s two-point conversion run cut Stryker’s lead to 32-22. But then Stryker scored two straight TDs to pull away late.
For Stryker, Barnum also had a big night receiving, catching six passes for 80 yards. Villanueva had 56 receiving yards, while Juillard added 52 yards receiving and Jacob Myers caught one pass for 45 yards.
For Danbury (2-5), Elijah Hatfiel had 75 yards rushing, Landon Dunlap garnered 74 yards on the ground and Mischler added 70 yards rushing.
First Downs 13 18
Rushes-Yards 37-225 26-175
Passing Yards 43 251
Passing 6-15-1 17-20
Total Yards 268 425
Penalties-Yards 4-35 6-53
Danbury 6 0 8 8 – 22
Stryker 6 14 12 14 – 46
S – Juillard 4-yd pass from Cadwell (run failed)
D – Maltese 4-yd run (pass failed)
S – Villanueva 4-yd run (Barnum pass from Cadwell)
S – Barnum 38-yd pass from Cadwell (pass failed)
S – Barnum 9-yd pass from Cadwell (pass failed)
D – Mischler 46-yd run (Maltese run)
S – Villanueva 16-yd pass from Cadwell (pass failed)
D – Mischler 2-yd run (Maltese run)
S – LaBo 18-yd pass from Cadwell (pass failed)
S – Barnum 25-yd run (Villanueva pass from Cadwell)
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