One of the most anticipated matchups of the year didn’t disappoint early on, with the Wildcats matching the home team on both sides of the ball for much of the opening two quarters.
The Huskies, however, took control of the game when Will May scored on a three-yard reception from quarterback Coltyn Corning in the final seconds of the first half, giving them a two-touchdown cushion and plenty of momentum going into the break.
“The kids definitely earned it tonight,” Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow said. “They responded well. They hung onto the ball, which is huge. We had too many penalties, but we’re getting there.
“Our offense played well, and our defense played well.”
Logan Miranda continued his impressive start to the new season, scoring a pair of touchdowns on long plays and finishing with a remarkable 173 yards on just seven touches.
Miranda opened the scoring on the first drive of the game, pulling in a reception from Corning and taking it 80 yards to the end zone on just the third play from scrimmage.
The Wildcats answered immediately, however, when quarterback Cole Carmesin found the end zone on a two-yard run midway through the opening quarter.
Cayden Collings had a pivotal 22-yard run on a fourth down to set up the score.
The fast start to the game continued on the next drive, when Corning scored on a one-yard run to cap a 12-play drive and put the home team up 14-6 late in the opening quarter.
Both defenses picked up their game after that, however, with May’s big TD the only other score before halftime.
“That score right before halftime was big,” Benbow said.
The Huskies carried the momentum into the second half, and after holding the Cats on the opening possession, they widened the gap on Miranda’s second TD of the night, this one on a 68-yard run.
For the night, Miranda finished with 93 yards rushing on six carries, as well as the 80-yard TD reception.
Quin Hall, who was just called up from the JVs this week, also had a big night as one of six Fortuna players to combine for 189 yards rushing.
“We have a few guys that are stepping up,” said Benbow, whose team is now 2-0. “And we don’t know who it’s going to be night to night.”
May also had a big game on the defensive side of the ball, while Breck Bishop continues to be a force on both sides of the ball, setting up Hall’s long score with a big pancake block.
Corning also is looking more and more comfortable at quarterback, completing 4 of 8 passes for 123 yards and the two TDs, in addition to his TD run.
For Ferndale, Jack Westfall continued his impressive start to the season, finishing with 50 yards rushing on 14 carries and scoring a late TD.
“They’re always prepared and their kids played hard,” Benbow said of the Wildcats, who dropped to 0-2. “They gave us trouble up front. Their D-line and linebackers did a good job.”
Carmesin added 46 yards on 19 carries, switching to running back when Collings suffered a leg injury on his big fourth-down conversion and had to be taken to hospital in an ambulance.
Collings had 41 yards on two carries before leaving and waved to the crowd as he was carted off the field.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the young man who hurt his leg tonight,” Benbow said. “We’re all upset about that.”
Key to the victory was the second-half performance of Fortuna’s offensive line, which stepped up its game after the interval.
“Our O-line responded in the second half,” the Fortuna head coach said. “We talked to them pretty good at halftime and they responded.
“And I felt our defense played well.”
Aaiden Burris stepped in at quarterback for the Cats after Carmesin’s switch, and completed 6 of 13 passes for 66 yards.
Westfall, Carmesin and Kannon Christiansen each had two receptions.