Sports

Third Qt. Nightmare Dooms ‘Cats, 42-30

Turnovers in Opening Moments of Second Half Allows Harmony Grove to Take Command

By Stan Sadler

HARMONY GROVE – Through the first six games of 2017, Rison suffered just three turnovers. By the time the Wildcats left Bill Manning Field last Friday night, they had twice that many, not counting two other occasions when they failed to move the chains on possessions deep in Harmony Grove territory.

So, after a nightmare start to the second half, when a slim 6-point deficit turned into a big 20-point hole, Rison fought its way back into the game before dropping a 42-30 decision to Harmony Grove, as the Hornets took control of the driver’s seat in the 8-2A Conference race. The setback, the Wildcats’ first of the season, left them at 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference, while the Hornets improved to 5-3 and 5-0. Of course, two of their non-conference losses came at the hands of a pair of Class 3A’s best – Prescott and Glen Rose.

“I went down there prepared for a tight, defensive game,” Rison head coach Clay Totty said. “And that’s what we had at the half. Even though we had just given up a touchdown just before the half, we were down only 14-8. But at that point we were feeling good. We were getting the ball to start the second half. I told them (team) at the half we would get the ball, go down and score, get a lead, and put the pressure on them (Harmony Grove). I certainly wasn’t expecting what was fixing to happen.”

Two lost fumbles by the ‘Cats in the first 78 seconds of the second half gave Harmony Grove possession at the Rison 16 and then the 35. The Hornets quickly cashed in for a 21-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Gannon Bearden to Jace Garcia, followed shortly by a 4-yard TD plunge from Jordan Hicks, and suddenly it was 28-8. The turnovers occurred on the opening kick of the second half, when Rison failed to get the handle on the ball, and then on the Wildcats’ first offensive snap of the third period.

Later, the Hornets used a 47-yard TD run by Bearden and an 83-yard kick return for a touchdown by Kentrell Hill as the third quarter ended to keep Rison at a safe enough distance.

Totty commented, “We kept fighting to get back close, to try and make it a one-score game, but gave up those big plays. I feel like that if we had gotten it to a one-score game we might have won it. But that’s two weeks in a row to give up a kick return for a touchdown. Lack of special teams coverage killed us. They had a speed advantage, though, and they hurt us with big plays, offense and special teams. But, defensively, I thought Jared Wilson had a good game for us.”

To read the full article, see the October 25, 2017 print or e-Herald edition of The Herald.

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