CRANFORD - Another strong defensive showing and run game powered Cranford over Gov. Livingston, 35-0, on Friday night at the home opener at Memorial Field.
Michael Kalnins and Jimmy Shriner combined for 163 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Though the defense was strong the whole game, the offense started sluggish. Cranford's first possession was a three-and-out and the second ended on the 12-yard line after an interception. Four plays prior, Shriner broke four tackles for what looked like a 15-yard TD, but the score was waved off due to holding. In total, the Cougars committed 11 penalties.
"It's embarrassing to have this many penalties," said cranford head coach Erik Rosenmeier. "It's self-inflicted. We're going to have to really work on our disciple and we're going to have to work on understanding that our actions impact everybody because that was terrible. Nobody to blame but ourselves on that."
Things started to turn around in the second quarter when Rob Schork sniffed out a screen play and nabbed an interception, giving the Cougars great field position at Gov Livingston's 28-yard line. Three plays later, Kalnins broke the scoreless tie with a 10-yard TD run.
After forcing a turnover on downs on its next defensive series, Cranford had it's most impressive drive, going 73 yards on eight plays in just a minute and 34 seconds. On 4th-and-5, Connor Katz connected with Shriner for 25 yards, and on the next play, Kalnins powered into the end zone for his second TD.
"We wanted to get him a little more involved in the run game," said Rosenmeier of Kalnins. "We knew that we wanted to get him the ball in space and that was a conscious effort on our part this week to try to make sure we got him out on the edge."
Shriner did most of his damage in the second-half, taking seven carries for 80 yards and two touchdowns, including a 38-yard TD run to take a 28-0 lead. Shriner's second TD was the last play the starters would see as backup quarterback Phil Marotta led the second unit the rest of the way.
Cranford's depth at running back flashed again on its final drive as sophomore Marcus Johnson broke-off a 35-yard TD run to put the game into running clock.
"I think that we have a lot of guys that if we get the ball in their hands in space, they can do some damage," said Rosenmeier. "We're trying to spread it around, not to keep people happy, but to keep the defense off balance."
The Cougars will be at home again next week when they take on Rahway (1-1) on Friday at 7 p.m.