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Cardinals climb from Pit with 13-6 victory

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By: Josh Briggs

The second installment of the Saline River Showdown ended as did the first- with Harmony Grove (1-0) on top.

However, this years’ rivalry with Bauxite (0-1) was much different in the sense that the Miners- 0-10 last season- put up a fight all night, even pulling within 7-6 late in the contest.

“We knew what they were going to be like,” said Harmony Grove Head Coach Paul Calley.  “My hat is off to them. They played their butts off and that coaching staff did a heck of a job turning around the culture and physicality of that team.

“They whipped us, but our guys hung in there and fought and fought and fought good enough to hang on. I still don’t feel like we won, but I am so proud of my guys for not giving up.”

The Cardinals clawed their way to a 13-6 final score, largely in part to a crucial stop on a 2-point conversion attempt and a big interception with under two minutes to play.

“I am proud of our kids,” said Bauxite Head Coach Daryl Patton.”(Harmony Grove) is a good football team. Last year we weren’t even on the same field with them and this year we fought toe-to-toe and had a chance late in the game.”

Harmony Grove was struck with heartache on the first snap of the game with the loss of senior Colton Dixon, who exited with an apparent serious ankle injury.

He would not return.

“Thins went very bad on the first play of the game- we lost Colton Dixon,” Calley said. “He is our backup running back so Jake (Brooks) is having to play every snap. We don’t have anybody physical enough to stand up and pass protect.

“Colton going out early really dampened our spirits. But it is my fault. I should have had a third back ready to go.”

Calley added that he doesn’t know the extent of Dixon’s injury at this point, but said he expects him to miss a “lengthy period of time.”

Senior Quarterback Hunter Hilson would be thrown to the deck for a sack five times in the game, including twice hard by Bauxite’s Zack Lasage.

Hislon would finish the contest 8 for 22 with 100 yards through the air and three interceptions. During on stretch, Hilson threw seven straight incompletions in the game, including two interceptions.

The senior gunslinger tossed four picks all of last season.

Brooks would finish his tiring tilt with 18 carries, 76 yards and the team’s only two touchdowns.

Both squads traded punts each of their first two drives before Brooks and the Cardinals found the endzone from a yard away with 2:04 left in the opening quarter.

Defenses continued to hold strong for the rest of the half with the midway score still showing Harmony Grove up 7-0.

Bauxite’s Seth McDowell would cause an eruption of cheers from the home crowd with under a minute to go in the half, snatching his first of two interceptions on the night to end a Cardinals drive.

The Miners would take the ball down to Harmony Grove’s 15 with 2:54 left in the half, but would be stuffed on a quarterback keeper on fourth down.

The second half brought more of the same from both teams as the first five combined possessions saw three punts and a turnover-on-downs.

After a second failed fourth-down attempt in the third quarter, Bauxite would make a stand of its own on defense as Elijah Cruz picked Hilson off, returning the rock 45 yards for the score.

Down 7-6 and awaiting an extra point or 2-point try, Patton decided against the PAT.

Going for 2 after a lengthy timeout discussion, Bauxite was stuffed thanks to a big hit from Brooks on running back Dawson Dabbs to keep Harmony Grove in front.

“I had told the kids that if we got the fourth quarter and scored, we were going for 2,” Patton said. “We just didn’t get the linebacker blocked and he made a great play.

“I’d do it again and wouldn’t change it. We are going for 2 to try to give ourselves a chance to go up with nine minutes left in the ballgame.”

Hilson again, would end Harmony Grove’s next series with an interception, this time deep in Miner’s territory, finding the hands of McDowell a second time.

Continuing with great defense, the Cardinals set themselves up with the ball at Bauxite’s 47 before putting together a seven-play series, capping it with an 11-yard, untouched scamper from Brooks. A missed PAT would put Harmony Grove up 13-6 with 1:58 left.

“We did what we thought we had to do by giving up the touchdown to give ourselves a chance to get the ball back,” Patton said. “They may not understand  that right now, but that was our only chance to get the ball back.”

Switching to the Dead T offense in the offseason, Patton was forced to air it out on his team’s final drive.

“We moved the ball at times, we just didn’t finish drives,” Patton said. “A lot of that is growing pains, just being new to the offense and learning. We are going to get better and come back to work Monday.”

Bauxite would snap the ball 39 times, gaining 130 yards on the night.

After an incompletion that hit in and out of a receiver’s hands deep down the field, Bauxite’s Hunter Davis would be intercepted by sophomore Logan Hubbard, ultimately ending the game on the next play.

“We have been high on Hubbard since junior high last year,” Calley said. “He had been wanting to quit and I told him ‘you are the one I have got to keep out here and he said OK coach, I’ll stay.’ He is a baller.

“He is beyond his years in composure. He does not have a lot of football experience, but he loves it. He has done everything he can to learn.”

Bauxite was out of timeouts and without anyway of stopping the clock as Harmony Grove ran the time out following the crucial interception.

“Our defense played great,” Calley said. “I can’t say enough about them. We had a lot of sophomores on the field that grew up tonight. Our guys did what we asked them to do. Everyone else against Bauxite is not going to have much time (to prepare) as we did.”

Harmony Grove would gain 199 yards on 54 plays.

Both teams will be at home in Week 2 with Harmony Grove hosting Fountain Lake and Bauxite welcoming longtime rival Glen Rose.

Both tilts are expected to begin at 7 p.m.

HG vs Bauxite Box Score 2017

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