CLARINDA – The Clarinda Cardinals rushed for more than 10 yards a carry and scored six rushing touchdowns in rolling to a 55-20 win over Shenandoah, Friday, Oct. 16 in the opening round of the Class 2A football playoffs.
The win moves Clarinda into the Pod 16 final and a rematch with Greene County, a team the Cardinals lost to 22-15 in overtime, Oct. 2.
Cole Ridnour and Tadyn Brown both eclipsed 100 yards rushing on less than 10 attempts for the Cardinals. Ridnour carried the ball eight times for 109 yards and scored three touchdowns while Brown tallied 108 yards on nine carries with a pair of scores.
“When we have backs like Cole and Tadyn, and throw Michael (Shull) into the mix too, we feel we can run the ball,” Clarinda head coach Collin Bevins said. “Tadyn has some power and some shifty moves, Michael can cut from sideline to sideline and Cole is our downhill guy. We have been telling Cole to quit running like a running back and run like a fullback, looking for contact. If they can keep building on that, they can run the ball.”
Ridnour’s first touchdown came on Clarinda’s first drive when a 14 yard pass from Michael Shull to Isaac Jones and a 14 yard run by Tadyn Brown set Ridnour up from one yard out. A bad snap on the extra point kept the Cardinals from adding on and it was 6-0.
Shenandoah responded immediately with a 95 yard kickoff return by Morgan Cotten. Zayne Zwickel’s extra point gave the Mustangs a 7-6 lead.
The next four scores belonged to the Cardinals. Wyatt Schmitt capped an eight play drive with a six yard touchdown run later in the opening quarter. Schmitt added the two point run to give Clarinda a 14-7 lead.
The teams traded multiple short unsuccessful drives before the Cardinals found the end zone twice in less than a minute just past the halfway point of the second quarter.
Brown found the end zone for the first time on a 15 yard run with 5:36 left in the first half. The extra point by Nathan Barnes extended the lead to 21-7. Ethan McAndrews picked off a Zwickel pass on the second play of Shenandoah’s next drive and then Schmitt and Shull hooked up on a 35 yard touchdown pass on the next play. The extra point extended the lead to 28-7.
After a Shenandoah punt, Clarinda’s quick strike offense struck again with Brown running in a 47 yard touchdown, extending the Cardinal lead to 35-7 with the extra point with 2:58 left in the half.
Shenandoah answered with two big plays to score its only offensive touchdown of the game. A 57 yard screen pass to Morgan Cotten set the Mustangs up deep in Clarinda territory. Zwickel then found Blake Herold for a 24 yard touchdown pass, cutting Clarinda’s lead to 35-14, which would be the halftime score.
Shenandoah nearly scored again to start the second half. The Mustangs were successful on an onside kick coming out of halftime and then used mainly the short passing game to drive to the Cardinal eight yard line. Ethan Fast intercepted a Zwickel pass near the goal line in the middle of the field, though, and returned it to the Cardinal 35 ending the threat.
Clarinda would then score twice in quick succession to put the game out of reach. Ridnour found space for a 42 yard touchdown run, and then Shull returned an interception 30 yards for a score. Those touchdowns came just 56 seconds apart and both extra points gave Clarinda a 49-14 lead with 7:40 remaining in the third quarter.
Ridnour added a three yard touchdown run with 5:49 left in the game. Barnes then attempted to drop kick the extra point but missed it short.
Blake Herold took the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown for the game’s final score.
Shenandoah head coach Ty Ratliff said they threw everything they had at the Cardinals, it just wasn’t enough.
“Offensively our game plan was to utilize our athletes in space and pass the ball a little more,” Ratliff said. “We did a good job once we got going with that. We had a lot of different receivers and a lot of different looks. The line gave Zayne great protection and we moved the ball pretty efficiently. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort and fight. Even when the game got a little out of hand, our kids responded with a big play. They kept fighting to the end.”
Zwickel threw for 199 yards, completing 16 of 41 passes. Five different Mustangs caught a pass, led by six catches each from Cotten and Herold. Cotten ended with 95 receiving yards while Herold finished with 75 and the score.
Bevins said the top goal defensively was to stop the run and the Cardinal defense held Shenandoah’s ground attack to 48 yards
“We played a pretty good game on defense,” Bevins said. “They hurt us with those short out routes a few times and turned them into first downs. We contained the running game pretty well. That was our key coming in. They went empty quite a bit and went twins with a back and would hit the out route, and that gave us some problems, but we rallied to the football and tackled well.”
Shull led the defense with six tackles and one of the four Cardinal interceptions. Grant Jobe and Brown added four tackles each. Jobe and Logan Green both had two tackles for loss.
Offensively, the Cardinals ran the ball well and also threw it well with Schmitt completing 7 of 12 passes for 130 yards and a score.
“They threw a four man front at us,” Bevins said. “That was the first time they had done that since short yardage in the first game. I was pleased with how we adjusted to it.”
Beau Gardner led Shenandoah’s defense with 5.5 tackles and an interception. Avery Martin and Herold added five tackles each while Evan Holmes finished with four.
Ratliff was pleased with how his kids kept fighting even after the game was out of reach.
“They gave everything they had,” Ratliff said. “We had some big drives and then would turn it over and Clarinda capitalized on some of those. Even coming out of halftime, recovering the onside kick, those were big momentum swings for us and huge bursts of energy that our kids fed off of. Our leadership shined (Friday). They stuck together when things got tough and kept fighting.”
A season that started at 2-0 and 3-1 ended at 3-5 for the Mustangs and Ratliff loses a group of eight seniors who saw the field this fall.
“These kids have meant a lot to our program,” Ratliff said. “They are leaders on and off the field. They put in a lot of work and gave everything they had. I can’t be more proud of what they have done for the Mustang football team and the town of Shenandoah and how they represented us this year. We’re losing a great group of kids who will be tough to replace. They definitely left their mark on the Mustang football program.”
The Cardinals improved to 4-4 and advanced to play Greene County, a team they lost to 22-15 in overtime earlier this month. Bevins is excited for another shot at the Rams.
“We earned ourselves the right to play them again,” Bevins said. “I told the kids coming in that we have to take care of business to get to the next week. We weren’t looking ahead and now that we can, we look forward to playing them on their field again. Obviously, we have to expect something different. We’ll have to adjust to what we see.”