LORETTO — Cascade coach Jake Tyre is a fairly rhythm oriented guy, especially on Friday nights.
So when Friday night’s Region 5-AA match up at Loretto was pushed up an hour due to inclement weather in the area, things felt off a bit for Cascade.
While its first quarter skewed in favor of the Mustangs, Cascade (8-1, 3-1) took full control of the game after the opening frame and dominated Loretto for the 18-6 region win.
Loretto (3-6, 0-4) opened the game about as well as it could have, scoring on the first possession of the game and piling up over 100 yards of offense in the first 12 minutes of regulation.
But after that first frame, Cascade settled into its form and completely shut down the Mustangs’ offense.
“We didn’t get going until about 7 o’clock when the game was supposed to start. The 6 o’clock start messed with me a little bit and messed with the guys a little bit. Once we got going, it was a good game,” Tyre said.
Loretto piled up 104 yards of real estate in the first quarter, 61 of which came on the lone Mustang touchdown run of the night.
Mustang fullback Jaden Stults bounced to the outside and streaked down the home sideline to the end zone at the 9:22 mark of the first quarter.
He carried the ball four times in the opening quarter for 74 yards and the Loretto score.
But aside from the opening drive, Cascade didn’t budge an inch for the remaining 36 minutes of regulation.
In fact, Loretto managed just one first down by the offense after the first quarter, which came with 10:15 left in the game.
Aside from that, the only time Loretto was able to move the chains in the final three quarters came on a Cascade pass interference.
The Champions moved the ball well at times in the first half, but just couldn’t find the means to punch the ball in the end zone.
After forcing a punt with 9:07 left in the first half, Cascade took over at its own 42-yard line.
A 17-yard pickup by Chris Sullivan and a 20-yard pass reception by Champion quarterback Ryan Inmon to Sawyer Lovvorn helped Cascade set up shop in the red zone.
Loretto ended the drive after coming up with an interception along the Champion sideline, but Cascade’s defense backed the Mustangs up to their own three-yard line before forcing a up.
Taking over possession with prime starting field position, Cascade worked its offense 31 yards before Inmon burst into the end zone on a four-yard strike.
Cascade opted for the two-point conversion, which Taylor Dowell successfully converted to put Cascade up 8-6 with 1:24 left in the half.
That score held though the third quarter, although Cascade had its chances to add to its lead.
While the Champions were able to move the ball in the third frame, Cascade was hampered by untimely penalties that forced Cascade to settle for field goal tries.
The Champs were unable to convert on two field goal tries in the third quarter from 43 and 40 yards.
But even with the missed chances in the third, Cascade didn’t allow the Mustangs to convert a single first down in the quarter and continued to stuff the Mustang run game.
Loretto’s offense was held to just four carries for negative yardage in the quarter.
Eventually, Cascade was able to add to its lead when Inmon was flushed from the pocket and connected with Blake Olive on a 26-yard touchdown pass with 4:55 left in the game.
Cascade kicker Drake Hodge atoned for earlier missed field goal tries and connected on a key extra point to put the Champs up 15-6, making it a two-score game.
Loretto saw its following drive go backwards following a touchback on the kickoff by Hodge.
With an unsportsmanlike penalty and a hold on back-to-back plays, Loretto took over possession on its own 10-yard line.
After losing more yardage and backed up on fourth and long from its own nine, Loretto opted for a fake punt, but the Champion defense was able to stuff the run for just a one-yard gain, allowing Cascade to take over on the 10-yard line.
Three plays later, Hodge successfully connected on the 23-yard field goal for the final score of the night.
Olive was just one of the several stars that contributed on both sides of the ball for Cascade.
In addition to hauling in a 26-yard touchdown pass, Olive helped lead the team in tackles, with six, including a tackle for loss.
“He (Olive) had a heck of a night on defense and offense. He had a great game and played his heart out tonight,” Tyre said.
Senior Elijah Arnold also recorded six tackles, including a pair of sacks.
Inmon totaled 21 carries for 113 yards to lead the Cascade ground game.
As a team, the Champions piled up 163 rushing yards.
Inmon was also effective through the air, completing 6-of-14 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown.
“We’ve been working with 3 (Inmon) a little bit on staying in the pocket and throwing the ball. He’s seeing the play and making it happen,” Tyre said.
His top target of the night was Lovvorn, who caught four passes for 80 yards.
Hayden Dowell also added 35-yard pass reception as well.
As a team, Cascade allowed just 96 yards of offense to the Mustangs and held Loretto to negative -8 yards through the final three quarters played.
The Champion defense also was a no-fly zone as Cascade didn’t allow a single pass reception to Mustang receivers, with Loretto quarterback Carter Daniel going 0-for-11 passing against the stout Cascade defense.
“We just played lights out. They’ve played lights out all year. They’re going to continue to play lights out. They give the offense a chance and we make plays when we need to make them,” Tyre said.
After nine long weeks, Cascade finally gets an off week to recharge the batteries before closing the regular season at the Stable against Summertown.
While normally a late bye week would be frowned upon, Tyre says it’s a perfect time to get a few players healthy and recharge the batteries before the playoffs in three week’s time.
“It’s going to give us a chance to get a couple kids of healthy. Our goal is still there to win a region championship and our goal is still there to host a home playoff game. Everything is still on the table for what we put out there in the beginning of the year,” he said.
“We need this bye week. We need to recharge, coaches, players , fans, everybody needs a week to recharge a little bit.”
The win improved the Champions to 8-1 entering the off week.
With only a handful of teams in school history every reaching the 8-1 benchmark, Tyre says it’s been quite the ride watching the roots of the program blossom into a team readying for a postseason run.
“There haven’t been many (Cascade) teams be 8-1. It’s a good time. From where we’ve been and where we came from, to building it and seeing the kids mature that have been in the program for a while, it’s fun to see them have success and enjoy it,” he said.
Cascade 0 8 0 10 — 18
Loretto 6 0 0 0 — 6
L — Jaden Stults 61 run, (kick failed), 9:22.
C — Ryan Inmon 4 run, (Taylor Dowell 2pt. run), 1:24.
C — Blake Olive 26 pass from Inmon, (Drake Hodge kick), 4:55.
C — Hodge 23 field goal, 2:25.
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