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Bryan Hudnell | Staff Writer

The Mason Comets sustained their first conference loss after falling to the high-flying Colerain Cardinals 30-16.

Colerain came into this game with the second best rushing attack in the Greater Miami Conference.  On their opening drive, the Cardinals ran the ball early and advanced to the Comets side of the field.  As they were inching closer to the end zone, junior defensive back Cole Pearce of the Comets poked the ball loose and recovered the fumble to give Mason the early momentum.

Fireworks shot off shortly after, as senior quarterback Preston Hutchinson launched a pass to senior running back James Grace for a 74-yard touchdown. After a missed two-point conversion attempt, the Comets were out in front early with a 6-0 lead. According to Grace, the early lead placed Colerain in an uncomfortable spot.

“Teams like Colerain aren’t used to being down,” Grace said. “Them being down was unfamiliar territory for them.”

Colerain would start the ensuing drive at their own 38-yard line. After a 7-yard rush by junior running back Deon Andrews, the Cardinals coughed up the football again and Pearce dove on the ball for his second fumble recovery of the game.

The Comets continued to put up points in the first quarter as senior kicker Andrew Hauer knocked down a 34-yard field goal to give the Comets a 9-0 lead. Head coach Brian Castner was pleased with how his team started the game.

“We were able to put up a 9-0 lead early,” Castner said. “Things were going well for us early on.”

Colerain would rebound in the second quarter with a pair of touchdowns. After a 1-yard touchdown run by senior running back Monalo Caldwell, the Cardinals connected on a 61-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Ja’von Hicks to close the first half. The Cardinals leading 13-9.

The Comets offense opened up the second half with two straight three and outs and struggled to run the football effectively. The offense was 2-11 on third downs and kept junior punter Reed Naglich busy with 5 punts. With the Colerain defensive line constantly making plays behind the line of scrimmage, Castner believed that the Comets lost the battle in the trenches.

“We weren’t winning up front in the second half,” Castner said. “Our guys in the trenches need to dig deep when it gets tough and battle through.”

The Cardinals began the fourth quarter with a 23-yard touchdown rush by Caldwell, extending their lead to two possessions. With 5:44 left in the game, the Comets responded with a 4-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Austin Croy, making the score 23-16.

With Colerain getting the ball back, Mason needed a stop to give their offense a chance to tie the game. Senior running back JJ Davis had other plans as he found daylight and broke off a 36-yard run to the Comets 21-yard line. As time quickly ticked away, Caldwell muscled his way into the end zone for his third touchdown on the night and sealed the deal for the Cardinals.

Despite the loss, Castner was proud of the effort that his team displayed.

“I thought we showed that we were a very good football team,” Castner said. “We played very hard tonight and I’ll never be down on a team that works hard and shows great effort.”

After two straight road games, the Comets look to get back on track in next week’s home matchup against Fairfield. Castner said that him and his staff are going to watch over film and fine tune some things before the matchup next Friday night.

“We’re going to get right back in the film room tomorrow morning and fix what we need to fix,” Castner said. “We’re going to move forward to (Fairfield) coming to us and playing at our home turf.”

Check out the article on the CSPN: http://thecspn.com/?p=40024

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