By: Josh Briggs
HASKELL — The Harmony Grove Cardinals (2-0) entered Week 2 as a six-point underdog to Gurdon (1-1) by Hooten’s Arkansas Football.
Coming off an open week after defeating Centerpoint 38-20 on the road to in Zero Week, the Cardinals ran right past the Go-Devils, trouncing Gurdon 33-0 at Sykes Stadium in Haskell.
“I am very proud of our kids,” said Head Coach Mike Guthrie. “They played with great intensity and came off the ball well on both sides. They played their hearts out. As long as they keep playing with that kind of effort, they are going to have good results.”
The Cardinals would take advantage of three crucial fumble recoveries in the game, turning one into a touchdown while the final takeaway came late in the fourth quarter, allowing Harmony Grove to use up the remainder of the clock.
“We hired a new defensive coordinator — and with the guys we already had here — they have them flying around and getting to the football,” Guthrie said. “Getting off the ball is just as important on defense as it is on offense. So far, the kids have been executing that.”
Harmony Grove would start the game with a fumble of their own, turning the rock over to Gurdon on the Devils’ own 35 with 10:24 left in the first quarter.
Gurdon would turn the ball over on downs nine plays later.
With a new series starting at their own 33, the Cardinals would string together an 11-play scoring drive, capping it with a 4-yard power push from senior running back Jake Brooks.
Harmony Grove would lead 6-0 after the point-after was blocked by Gurdon’s big senior tackle Remi Williams.
The Devils would punt on the ensuing drive, allowing Harmony Grove’s offense to get back to work.
Seventy-five yards from the end zone, the Cardinals kept with the ground-and-pound, using five rushing plays before senior Ryan Riedmueller spun away from a number of defenders, trucking 49 yards for the score and a 12-0 Cardinals lead.
Harmony Grove would again force a turnover on downs, this time taking over at the Devil 45 with 6:32 left in the half.
Continuing to have success on the ground, the Cardinals were anchored by a 25-yard run from senior quarterback Logan Whitley before setting the field general up for a 4-yard TD run two plays later.
Harmony Grove would lead 20-0 after a successful 2-point try.
Gurdon looked to have something brewing on its next drive as it took the ball all the way to the Cardinals’ 3-yard line, but would find itself still scoreless as Harmony Grove’s Mason Sturba scooped up the loose ball, ending the once promising Devils’ drive.
The Cardinals would lead 20-0 at the break.
Misfortune continued to plague the Devils to start the second half as Harmony Grove forced its second fumble, this time recovered by Connor Burrow at the Cardinals’ 19.
Harmony Grove would follow by embarking on a 16-play scoring drive, going 81 yards as Brooks capped it with a 9-yard TD, his second score of the game.
The Cardinals led 26-0 with 11:47 left to play.
Gurdon continued to struggle on offense, turning the ball over on downs its next possession.
The Cardinals, though, kept with the scoring trend, marching 47 yards for the score as senior back Bruce Hampton found the end zone from a yard away.
Harmony Grove’s defense would end the game with its third forced fumble, recovered by senior Michael McKnight.
Riedmueller led all Cardinals rushers with 65 yards and a score on four carries.
Senior back Willie Newton and Brooks each added 62 yards, combining for 26 carries in the win.
James Webb would scamper for 46 yards on eight touches, followed by Jayce Harrison with 44 yards on four carries.
Harmony Grove outgained Gurdon 320-200, snapping the ball eight more times as well.
The Cardinals will stay at home in Week 3, hosting Bald Knob for homecoming in the final week of nonconference action.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Homecoming festivities will being at 6:30 p.m.
Also included will be a ring ceremony for the 2018 3A softball state champion Lady Cardinals. The recognition will take place at halftime.