CELINA — Cash Conder rushed for three touchdowns and a game-high 70 yards to lead the Celina Bobcats to a 43-7 non-district win over the Melissa Cardinals on Friday night.

CELINA — Cash Conder rushed for three touchdowns and a game-high 70 yards to lead the Celina Bobcats to a 43-7 non-district win over the Melissa Cardinals on Friday night.


Conder led a host of Bobcat rushers — eight to be exact — who combined for 301 yards on the ground as Celina (3-2) ended a two-game losing skid.


The Bobcats held Melissa (1-4) to 41 yards rushing and kept the Cardinals scoreless until late in the third quarter. Melissa quarterback Taylor McGehee was tackled for a loss eight times on 13 attempts, including consecutive sacks by Trenton Hambrick and Graham Buchanan to start the second half.


"It feels really good," Celina head coach Bill Elliott said. "We needed this after the last two weeks. Our kids were really excited about getting back out here on the field to get that taste out of our mouth. The defense shut them down. Their quarterback, McGehee, is a great runner … so it was huge challenge for us. They rose up and did a great job of containing him."


After a scoreless first quarter, Celina erupted for 20 unanswered points in the second stanza, including touchdown runs of 18 and 35 yards by Conder on consecutive possessions. Celina’s third score, a four-yard run by Nick Grant, came at the end of a 58-yard, 10-play drive. Key plays on the drive included a 3rd-down pass from Conner Pingleton to Jarren Alexander for 23 yards to Melissa’s 29 and Pingleton’s 15-yard run on a fourth-and-two.


"All the running backs ran the ball real well," Elliott added. "And the line blocked really well up front. Conner Pingleton did a great job, filling in at quarterback [for injured starter Nathan Elliott]. It was a great night all over. Every aspect of the game went pretty well for us."


Melissa’s deepest penetration of the first half, the Bobcats’ 22-yard-line, ended with a fumble recovered by Shane Gerths. Linebacker Jackson Graf ended a third-quarter Cardinal threat with an interception at Celina’s 16-yard-line.


"They’re a heck of a football team," Melissa head coach Seth Stinton said. "They’ve been a good football team for as long as I’ve been alive. So hats off to them. They played their tail-ends off. they exposed a lot of things that we’re not real good at, and good football teams do that.


"We’ve got to try to regroup and get better. I thought our kids battled there that first half … we were just outmatched."


Melissa’s lone score came with 3:33 left in the third quarter, a perfectly thrown deep pass from McGehee to Christian Norton down the left sideline that went for 73 yards. The touchdown drew Melissa to within 27-7.


John Franklin ended the scoring with a 31-yard touchdown scamper with 7:20 left to play.


Both Celina and Melissa have byes this week before starting district play on Oct. 10.