Faith Lutheran crushes Shadow Ridge despite short possessions

Time of possession can be a misleading statistic. Just ask Shadow Ridge’s football team.

The Mustangs held the ball for 36 minutes, 35 seconds on Friday and ran 82 offensive plays compared to 36 for Faith Lutheran. But all that time with the ball didn’t produce much against the Crusaders’ bend-but-don’t-break defense.

Host Faith Lutheran forced five turnovers, including a 36-yard fumble return touchdown by Taimani McKenzie in the third quarter, and came away with a 37-6 victory.

Christian Marshall rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns on only eight carries, and quarterback Sagan Gronauer accounted for two scores as the No. 10 Crusaders (5-3, 4-1 Northwest League) moved into sole possession of second place.

“Against a team like this, you know it’s going to be a long night, there’s going to be long drives, you’re going to be in there a while,” Faith Lutheran coach Vernon Fox said. “But one of the things we noticed in watching film was they were able to pop off the big plays often. If you can limit those and keep them from translating those drives to points, then you give yourself a good chance. So, I’m proud of our guys. I feel like they did a good job.”

Faith Lutheran allowed a 300-yard rusher in consecutive victories over Legacy and Cimarron-Memorial but held the Mustangs’ high-powered rushing attack out of the end zone until late in the third quarter when Malik Lindsey scored on a 1-yard run to cut Faith Lutheran’s lead to 30-6.

Lindsey gained 155 yards on 32 carries, and Shadow Ridge (5-2, 2-2), which produced 61 points last week against Centennial, finished with 316 yards rushing but needed 70 attempts.

“I don’t want to be a tissue paper defense where we’re giving up (300) and 400 yards rushing a week,” Fox said. “A point of emphasis really has been turning the corner defensively. One of the things we really prided ourselves on in the past is stopping the run and not only that but creating turnovers.”

Marshall scored on a 72-yard run midway through the first quarter and added a 38-yard TD to put Faith Lutheran up 17-0 with 5:57 left in the second quarter.

Shadow Ridge put together an 18-play drive and drove to the Crusaders’ 1-yard line late in the half. But with time winding down and no timeouts, the Mustangs had to hurry a fourth-down play and Elisha Young was stuffed short of the end zone as time expired.

“When you’re on the 2-yard line, you want to score points and you don’t want to walk away empty-handed,” Fox said. “I felt like that was a turning point in the game for us.”

Gronauer tossed an 8-yard TD to Michael Peck on Faith Lutheran’s first drive of the second half to go up 24-0, and Gronauer added an 18-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.

“Tonight, I saw we made a big improvement, and the scoreboard showed it,” Gronauer said. “We played really well. The defense played stellar tonight.”

Contact reporter David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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