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Spartans and Lions renew gridiron skirmish

Connersvillerunner Landon Cerqua, left, looks for running room against South Dearborn,while Nate Pruitt for the Knights (33) moves in to attempt a tackle, last Friday night at CHS field. Connersville entertains Rushville tonight for the annual War on 44 with the Lions.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

Two years ago, the Rushville Lions defeated Connersville on the football field to keep control of the War on 44 trophy, a traveling award given to the team that wins the contest between the two squads.

Last year, the Spartans took the trophy back, earning a 44-34 victory almost one year to the day.

Tonight, the Lions are hoping the ping-pong game with the trophy continues, as they’ll be looking to return home with the hardware in tow.

While looking to keep the prize in its won trophy case, the Spartans will be in search of so much more when the two teams kick things off at 7 p.m.

At 0-4, CHS is hoping to get that first win, and relieve itself of the monkey on its back, one that grows heavier each week.

Rushville brings a 2-2 record into the game and an offense that likes to pound the football.

Of its 214 offensive plays, 170 of them (79 percent) have been on the ground.

Cameron Craig has shouldered the biggest load out of the backfield, the 6-1, 190-pound senior carrying the football 78 times for 654 yards and nine touchdowns through four games.

Quarterback Mason Springman is next with 36 carries, followed by Jordan Smith (27) and fullback Nick Lawler (22). Outside of Craig, Smith is the only other runner to score from his position in the backfield.

Springman has passed the football 44 times, completing 25 of them, primarily to Gage Rosenfeld (9 catches) and Craig (8). The RHS signal-caller has tossed a pair of touchdowns, but has also been picked off two times.

Rushville has wins over Milan and Franklin County, but has been beaten by New Castle and Batesville.

Connersville will try to get its multifaceted offense going, something it has struggled to do thus far, particularly in the first half.

Last week, CHS managed only 46 yards of offense in the first half against South Dearborn, finishing with 106 for the game.

Leading the running game for the Spartans is Landon Cerqua, the senior coming into tonight with 215 yards out of the backfield on 59 carries.

In addition to leading Connersville to its first win in 2018, quarterback Adam Kelly hopes to add to his throwing numbers, which stand at 24 completions on 65 attempts. He’s thrown for 314 yards and a touchdown.

Rushville (2-2) at Connersville (0-4)

Game time: 7 p.m. at Connersville High School field

Coaches: Dan Rector, 2-2 in 1st year at Rushville. Adam Kelly, 20-45 in 7th year at Connersville.

Sagarin ratings: Rushville, 39.81, 205th overall, 40th in 3A. Connersville, 14.82, 292nd overall, 60th in 4A.

Last outing: Rushville lost to Batesville, 45-22. Connersville lost to South Dearborn, 56-0.

vs. Common foes: Rushville 1-0; Connersville 0-1.

Opponents’ records: Rushville 9-7. Connersville 8-8.

Series last 30 years: Rushville, 21-8.

Last meeting: Connersville, 44-34, Sep. 15, 2017.