Harmony Grove Cardinal hosted the Malvern Leopards, winning the conference match 30-7. The Cardinals now move to 4-1 overall, 2-0 in 7-4A Conference play after last week’s win in Ashdown.
The Cardinals won the coin toss and elected to receive the kick first to start the game. Leopards senior kicker Michael Cervantes pinned the ball deep to the 1-yard line where Logan Whitley was there to receive the kick. Whitley returned the open kick 65 yards down to the Harmony Grove 35 to start the opening drive.
With 9:46 left in the quarter the Cardinals were short on a third-and-2 conversion bringing up a fourth-and-short on their own 10-yard line. Jayce Harrison made up the difference with a 1-yard run to the 9 for a first down.
The Cardinals would roll their way down to the 3 before Jake Brooks carried the ball to the end zone for the first touchdown of the night. James Webb would carry the ball in for the 2-point conversion making the score 8-0 in favor of the Cardinals.
“I can’t say enough about our kids and how hard they play,” Head Coach Mike Guthrie said. “Our defense played good they were spreading us to the side line to side line and our kids did a good job.”
Following the Harmony Grove kickoff, the Leopards’ first drive started from their own 24-yard line. Malvern’s Landon Florence found success running the ball, with five straight successful running plays including a fourth-and-3 short conversion.
In Harmony Grove territory the Leopards would fail to convert a first down with two incomplete passes both to open receivers. On the Cardinal 48-yard line, the Leopards would punt, pinning the Cardinals deep at their own 5.
Harmony Grove started their second drive with 3:51 left to play in the first quarter. On a designed quarterback fake run play, Whitley ran the ball 53 yards to the Leopard 36. As time ran down the Cardinals struggled to pick up yards finally opening up on a third-and-short with a 8-yard run from Brooks to the Leopard 29 with 1:20 remaining in the quarter.
Starting the quarter on the Malvern 27, the Cardinals would face their first fourth down of the night. Brooks would convert on the fourth-and-long running the ball 15 yards to the Leopard 11.
Brooks would again convert for a Cardinal touchdown, this time with a 5-yard pitch. Brooks would also convert the two points putting the Cardinals up 16-0 with 8:10 till half time.
The Cardinals would try for an on-side which the Leopards recovered on their own 46-yard line. Parker Freer would later walk the ball in for a 3-yard Malvern touchdown with 4:18 left till the half.
The Cardinals would lead 16-7 at the half.
The Leopards would field another onside kick from the Cardinals, and after Malvern faced a third-and-10 from their own 46-yard line when Freer connected on another pass, the hit from the Cardinal safety knocked the ball loose forcing a fumble which Harmony Grove would recover at their own 41-yard line with 10:43 left to play in the quarter.
The Cardinals would take a 10-play 34-yard drive to their own 24-yardline taking nearly five minutes off the clock, but were unable to convert on a fourth-and-6.
Later after a Leopards punt, the Cardinals drive at their own 26, Harmony Grove would run the ball to their own 20-yard line before Brooks finished the drive with a 20-yard touchdown breaking three tackles to stretch across the line making the score 24-7 following the 2-point conversion.
The Cardinals would successfully recover an onside kick and successfully drove the field yet again. They capped it off by another touchdown carry from Brooks, making the score 30-7 with 2:20 left to play.
On the kickoff the Leopards struggles continued on special teams late as the kick was bobbled and dropped and recovered by the Cardinals, ultimately ending the game.
Brooks led the team rushing with 113 yards. Whitley followed close behind with 111 yards, 60 of which came from the first quarter.
Next week the Cardinals host country rival Bauxite. Both teams are 2-0 in conference heading into the game.
“It’s another conference game,” Guthrie said. “Both teams seem to be playing well and it’s going to be a heck of a ball game.”