CAMBRIDGE — No one told Tyler Curtis he needed to redeem himself, but the thought was lingering in his mind.
The senior running back was called for a holding penalty that negated a Cambridge passing touchdown in the second quarter. After a first quarter touchdown, the Blue Jays were stagnant on offense. That play could have been a breakthrough.
Instead, the offense would have to wait until the third quarter to have its resurgent breakthrough when Curtis carried the ball for a 46-yard gain and a 21-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give Cambridge life before it eventually finished off a 20-12 victory against visiting Hazel Green Southwestern in non-conference prep football on Friday night.
“Tyler Curtis had a big game,” Cambridge coach Mike Klingbeil said. “I’m really happy for him the way he took the ball and motored down the field and got it going for us.”
The Curtis drive — he carried the ball for a three-yard gain and a nine-yard gain on the other two plays in the drive — was an answer for the third quarter touchdown Southwestern scored with 7 minutes, 16 seconds to play in the third quarter.
After both teams exchanged punts following the Southwestern touchdown, Cambridge took over on its own 20-yard line. The first play, quarterback Ezra Stein motioned a slot receiver across the field and took the snap in the shotgun. He faked the handoff to the receiver and gave it to Curtis. The motion by the receiver got the Southwestern defense leaning one direction before Curtis went through the right side of the line for a big gain.
“Prior to that, we were trying to run through holes and they weren’t there,” Curtis said. “On that one, the hole was just there. … One man missed a read and the hole was wide open.”
Added Klingbeil, “We’re getting better at running our offense. If you were to watch film of us in our scrimmage, we wouldn’t even look like the same team. Really it’s the growth of guys getting experience and getting reps and getting comfortable. It’s starting to slow down for them.”
Cambridge outgained Southwestern, 260-254. Curtis had 17 carries for 120 yards. Trey Colts carried the ball nine times for 55 yards and a touchdown with 3:52 to play in the first quarter.
The Blue Jays started to look tired in the fourth quarter when Southwestern took a long drive with two fourth-down conversions down the field to cut the lead to 13-12. The fact that the Wildcats were unable to convert the two-point conversion appeared to give the Bluejays life on the defensive side. Cambridge went down the field and extended the lead to 20-12. But it was still a one-possession game.
The defense needed to make a stop. That’s where Fritz Kaiser came in.
Southwestern got the ball on its own 34-yard line with 2:27 to play. The first play of the drive, the Wildcats took a shot deep down the sidelines with the receivers crossing on a post-wheel combination. Kaiser maintained his deep quarter of the field and deflected the ball out of bounds.
Two plays later, Southwestern quarterback Breckin Schneider took a shot at Kaiser again. This time, as Kaiser retreated to his zone, his feet were inadvertently tangled with the Southwestern receiver.
“We were down on energy before (the touchdown drive) and after that, we definitely perked up and got the momentum going,” Curtis said. “I think it really turned us around.”
After erasing the 33-yard touchdown pass from Stein to Kaiser, it was fitting that it was Curtis who had the opportunity to correct things for the Blue Jays.
Cambridge will continue its season on the road against Watertown Luther Prep on Friday at 7 p.m.
CAMBRIDGE 20, SOUTHWESTERN 12
Wildcats 0 0 6 6 — 12
Blue Jay 7 0 6 7 — 20
C — Colts 4 run (Stein kick), 3:52
SW — Runde 25 pass Schneider (kick failed), 7:16
C — Curtis 21 run (kick failed), 1:03
SW — Runde 16 pass Schneider (try failed), 5:55
C — Stein 2 run (Stein kick), 2:34
First downs — SW 12, C 10. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — SW 30-85, C 33-183. Passing yards — SW 166, C 77. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — SW 13-25-0, C 8-15-77. Fumbles-lost — SW 0-0, C 1-1. Penalties-yards — SW 10-88, C 3-35.
Rushing — SW Pearce 14-67; C Curtis 17-120. Passing — SW Schneider 13-25-166; Stein 8-15-77. Receiving — SW Runde 4-68; C Kaiser 2-38.