HOWARD-On paper, Friday night's Cornbelt Conference game between Canistota/Freeman and Howard seemed like marquee matchup, pitting two of the top teams in Class 9A.
Instead, the Pride stole the show.
The fifth-ranked visitors made a statement, capitalizing on Howard mistakes from the opening kickoff and using a high-powered offense to score all of their points in the first half of a 36-12 romp.
After Howard muffed the opening kickoff, Canistota/Freeman pounced, scoring off the turnover and never looked back.
"We had that big opening play to start the game and that just got us rolling," Canistota/Freeman head coach James Strang said. "I thought offensively we kept them guessing and defensively, we created some problems for them, got in the backfield, kept them behind the chains and it worked out well for us."
Canistota/Freeman got its first points on a 25-yard pass, as Trey Ortman found Tyce Ortman in the corner of the end zone. A Howard punt after just one first down gave the Pride the ball in Tiger territory and Ortman marched his team 49 yards on just five plays, before scampering in from five yards to put his team up 14-0 less than 4 minutes into the game.
Howard failed to pick up a first down-it only had three in the first half-setting up a fourth-down touchdown run by Austin Thu to take a 20-0 lead on the second play of the second
quarter, knocking out the Tigers early.
"We didn't play in the first half like we should play," Howard head coach Pat Ruml said. "I'm not sure why. We've got some seniors, but we've got some sophomores and I don't think they quite understand how hard you have to play in a game of this magnitude with a conference opponent."
While Howard struggled to find its footing, Canistota/Freeman kept its foot on the gas pedal with aggressive play calling throughout the first half. Down 28-0 with a little more than a minute left in the first half, the Tigers tried to get some momentum, but quarterback Isaac Fieldhaus was intercepted by Tate Tieszen.
Ortman found Collin Helma on the ensuing play and later threw a jump ball to Braxton Schmidt on the final play of the half to make it 36-0.
"We always like to keep players thinking about scoring," Strang said. "We've got weapons in the backfield and we think we have some pretty good weapons out on the edge that we want to utilize as much as possible."
Ortman finished the game 8 of 15 for 131 yards and three total touchdowns, while Thu had 91 yards on the ground to go along with two scores. Zach Pardy had a game-high 139 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries in defeat.
Canistota/Freeman (2-0) is idle until playing at Chester Area on Sept. 7. Howard (0-2) also has a bye next week and travels to Parker on Aug. 31.
CF: Tryce Ortman 25 pass from Trey Ortman (Austin Thu run)
CF: Trey Ortman 5 run (Pass failed)
CF: Thu 11 run (Run failed)
CF: Thu 18 run (Thu run)
CF: Braxton Schmidt 14 pass from Trey Ortman (Trey Ortman run)
H: Zach Pardy 2 run (Run failed)
H: Michael Hofer 7 pass from Isaac Fieldhaus (Run failed)