Note to Our Readers: The following story was sourced directly from Mr. Glenn Parrish, Director of Communications, Booneville School District. Mr. Parrish is a RNN Sports contributor, and we thank him for bringing this story to our readers!
When head coach Doc Crowley agreed to play Harding Academy in a home-and-home series, the Bearcats figured to have both the defensive and offensive firepower to make a serious run at the three times defending Class 3A state champion now assigned to Class 4A Wildcats.
Then the injuries began to mount. Four two-way starters were in jerseys and shorts or jeans and the Wildcats took a 44-14 win at Bearcat Stadium Friday night.
That isn’t to say the Bearcats were completely overwhelmed. It was a 7-point game going to the second quarter, and again in that quarter, and a less than impossible 20-point game with all but three seconds of fourth quarter to go.
Harding (3-0) scored on its first possession but had to drive only 35 yards to do so after a Bearcat fumble, the first turnover of the season by the Bearcats (2-1).
After the possession change Harding got one first down through the air and another through the flag for pass interference on a third down.
The touchdown also came on a third down to make it 7-0 with 7:30 left in the opening quarter.
Harding had a chance to do more damage in the opening quarter after a failed fourth down by the Bearcats but a negative yardage tackle by Dax Goff and a couple of incomplete passes brought up a 45-yard field goal try that was unsuccessful.
Harding would use its field goal team, a lot.
After a Bearcat punt Harding drove 78 yards to go in front 14-0 on a 38-yard touchdown pass but the Bearcats answered in two plays.
After a touchback kickoff Trace Hall rumbled for 26 and Goff went 54 yards to make it 14-7 with the Marcos Mullor PAT.
Goff carried 13 times for 123 yards in the game.
But, Harding got a kickoff return to the Bearcat 49 and a 49-yard touchdown pass to go up 21-7 just 34 seconds later.
Starting from their 47 after a punt the Wildcats got one first down but a sack by Chase Plymale and Demari Poole help force the Wildcats into fourth-and-15 at the Bearcat 38. A 55-yard field goal was just good to make it 24-7.
A punt in the final minute gave the Wildcats a chance to do further damage and but on a third down on the final play a 25-yard run, accounting for a good portion of the 112 yards the Wildcats gained on the ground, ended the half.
Out of the halftime break the Wildcats drove to a touchdown on a drive that featured a personal foul and unsportsmanlike penalty on the same play, and took over 5:30 of the third quarter
The second Bearcat turnover of the night set up a 42-yard field goal – Lance Sims made a one handed stop for a loss on third down – and again it was good for a 34-7 lead.
An 80-yard drive that took seven plays got the Bearcats on the board again. It was Hall scoring from the 3 but it was Cody Elliott who had a 31-yard gain that became 46 when he was drug down by his facemask that helped set it up.
Elliott ran for 42 of his 81 yards in the game on the drive.
Harding again struck quickly and again it was in the air, on a 67-yard touchdown pass to make it 41-14 with 11:30 to play.
The Bearcats turned the ball over on downs at the Harding 47 with 7:26 remaining and exactly five minutes later a third field goal – in four tries – made it 44-14. This one was from 40 from Harding’s Mississippi State commitment.
Jace Washburn had a nifty return on the ensuing kickoff and took over under center for Peyton Tatum and Garrick Barr and Clayton Loftin logged carries.
The Bearcats will be on the road at Hackett for their Conference 3A-1 opener this week.