The Presidents knew Sandusky's next play: Hand the ball to Cordney Strickland and get out of the way.
They still couldn't stop him.
With Sandusky's first-string quarterback, Lucas Poggiali, out of the game (concussion) from an Oct. 8 injury, the Blue Streaks knew they'd have to rely on their run game for the bulk of their offense.
Sandusky's trust was well-placed: Strickland ripped into the Presidents' defense for 252 yards and three touchdowns on 47 carries in a 21-7 win.
"We had a lot of pressure on our shoulders coming out here," Strickland said. "We told ourselves that we had to win. We have two more games left, and we want to go to the playoffs.
"That's our main goal -- get to Game 11. We gave it all we got. I told them I'd carry my team if I had to," Strickland added. "I'm glad I have my line. They'd blocked well and they carried me. I knew that was going to happen, so I prepared myself this week."
Sandusky coach Mike Franklin also credited fullback Jaylen Guevara for Strickland's big night.
"Anytime we can get Jaylen moving those linebackers backwards, Cordney is going to have a great night," Franklin said. "Cordney's experienced, he's a great player and a returning all-conference player. We expect that play out of him."
Strickland broke free for a 30-yard touchdown run with six-and-a-half minutes to play in the first half to open Sandusky's scoring. Brock Cremean's extra point gave Sandusky a 7-0 lead.
With 1:48 to play in the half, Harding freshman L.J. Scott bounced off of a scrum near midfield and sprinted for a 56-yard touchdown, tying the game at 7-7.
The Blue Streaks responded with a five-play, 61-yard drive, keyed by Strickland, again, as he covered the final 46 yards on two plays. He broke free for a 40-yard dash down to Marion Harding's six yard line. On a first-and-goal carry from the six-yard line, he reached forward with the ball, breaking the plane of the end zone for Sandusky's 14-7 lead.
Sandusky's stout defense held Harding without a first down in the third quarter.
In the fourth, Strickland punched in a touchdown from a half-yard out with 5:48 to play, capping the Streaks' fifth win of the season. That matches the win total from 2009.
"We overcame a lot of injuries," Franklin said. "It was a good all-around game for us -- Not only did we win, but we got experience for people that haven't played in awhile."
Franklin said that whichever team ran the ball better would win the game. Neither had much of a choice: Sandusky and Marion combined for 3 of 20 passing for 36 yards in the entire game.
Sandusky senior James Fox, filling in for Poggiali, threw two interceptions with his two completions.
The Streaks bounced back from a 49-14 drubbing at the hands of Findlay last week.
"We had to get that monkey off our backs," Strickland said. "We told ourselves, 'We can't let that happen again. Not on our home field. Not at all, period.'"
Sandusky had a good night at Strobel and elsewhere -- the Blue Streaks, in 11th place in Region 6 heading into Friday's game, benefitted with Clearfork's win over Ashland, Lorain's victory over Warrenville Heights and Perkins' upset of Clyde.
The Blue Streaks' path to the playoff is uphill, however. They finish the season at home Friday versus Napoleon (6-2) and on the road at Fremont Ross (7-1).
Harding 0 7 0 0 -- 7
Sandusky 0 14 0 7 -- 21
SAN -- Strickland 30 run (Cremean kick)
MH -- Scott 56 run (Haas kick)
SAN -- Strickland 6 run (Cremean kick)
MH -- Strickland 1 run (Cremean kick)
First downs 14 7
Rush-Yards 253 170
Pass Yards 20 16
Att-Comp-Int 8-2-2 12-1-0