A few big plays and a few minor adjustments spelled victory for the Cape Central Tigers Thursday night.
The Tigers claimed their second consecutive Class 4A, District 1 championship with a 26-9 victory over Farmington at Houck Stadium.
Monroe Hicks caught two touchdown passes and ran for another, while Marcus Klund ran for 148 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries as Central did pretty much what it wanted offensively.
Defensively, the Tigers weren't so successful, at least not until after the Tigers made a few adjustments at halftime.
After Farmington ran the ball through the heart of Central's defense for much of the first half, Hicks caught a 17-yard touchdown pass with 3.4 seconds to go to give Central a 13-9 lead at halftime.
"That was huge," said Klund. "That was the turning point of the game."
"That was definitely the turning point," said center Justin Wells. "We never looked back after that."
Even though Central went into halftime with a lead, the Tigers felt something had to change.
So they went to a different defensive set, moving the defensive tackles closer together and moving more players closer to the line of scrimmage.
"We went to a different look," said Cape Central coach Lawrence Brookins. "We probably didn't use that the last two games. We put a lot of guys in the box and were strictly one-on-one on the outside, but we were able to defend the option and weak-side lead play better."
The strategy obviously worked as Central outscored Farmington 13-0 in the final two quarters.
When asked what the difference was between the first half and second half, Farmington coach Mike Thebeau said "They made big plays and we didn't."
Farmington scored first when it drove 71 yards on 13 plays, but managed only a field goal to go up 3-0 with 4:43 left in the first quarter.
"I've got to give it to their offensive and defensive line," Wells said. "They were freakin' good. But we stepped up and shut them down in the second half."
Central answered in the second quarter when Klund scored from 10 yards out. An extra-point kick by Chris Jones put the Tigers ahead 7-3.
On their ensuing possession, the Knights once again assembled a huge drive, marching 80 yards on 15 plays. Caleb Smith finally scored from 2 yards out on fourth down. A missed PAT left the score at 9-7 with 1:19 left, but that was just enough time for Central to score, thanks to a 30-yard kickoff return by Klund to Central's 47.
Seven plays later, quarterback Mitch Craft -- following a time out -- threw a perfect pass to Hicks in the front, right corner of the end zone.
"The coaches just told me to run a corner," said Hicks. "Mitch threw the ball and I just caught it. It was right on the money."
Craft had a stellar game, completing nine of his 12 passes for 175 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His longest completion came with 5:05 left in the third quarter.
He hit a wide-open Hicks across the middle. Hicks made it around the corner, turned up the left sideline, juked a defender and sprinted 77 yards for a touchdown.
"We've been running that play all year, but they didn't pick it up," said Hicks. "I had to give a stop-and-go because the guy was over-pursuing and he fell for it. I saw a lot of green and just took off."
A missed kick left the score at 19-9.
Hicks added one more score, a 28-yard touchdown scamper, with 3:12 left in the fourth quarter. He caught four passes for 117 yards and ran the ball seven times for 52 yards.
Klund had an impressive all-around night as well. In addition to his 148 rushing yards, he caught one pass for 11 yards and had 95 yards on three kickoff returns.