HASKELL — In what has turned into a growing rivalry, the Saline River Showdown did not disappoint as it was held Friday under the lights of Sykes Stadium in Haskell.
The third year for the event between Harmony Grove (4-2, 2-1) and Bauxite (6-0, 3-0), 2018 marked a first for the Miners as they emerged victorious after holding off the pesky Cardinals for a 35-18 victory.
“I am proud of our kids, that is what it is all about,” said Bauxite Head Coach Daryl Patton. “These seniors, they came over here two years ago and it was kind of ugly. Last year was a nail-biter and we came over here this year and played very physical. We controlled the line of scrimmage and if we don’t turn it over, we make it a little bit easier on ourselves.
“Give credit to Harmony Grove. Those guys played well. We are just excited to leave here with a victory.”
Bauxite’s offensive line was stellar, allowing the Miners to rush for a 340 yards.
Senior quarterback Seth McDowell led the charge with 30 carries for 159 yards and four touchdowns. He was complemented well by fellow senior Dawson Dabbs who rushed for 133 yards and a score on 16 carries.
“And it was (McDowell’s) birthday,” Patton said. “I thought it was a lot easier to keep the ball in the quarterback’s hands. We were controlling the line of scrimmage and I thought Coach (David) Jordan did a good job play calling.
“McDowell is a stud. People may not know about him, but if they don’t they will because he is a dang good one.”
Harmony Grove would begin the contest with the ball, but would turn it over early in the first half as running back Willie Newton fumbled at midfield, the first of two lost fumble for the Cardinals.
Bauxite’s Emmanual Hervey would recover the rock at the Miners’ 49.
Despite forcing the turnover, Bauxite would return the favor with a botched snap that was recovered by Harmony Grove’s Hayden Hilson at the Cardinals’ 38.
Bauxite would lose three fumbles in the contest.
However, the miscue would not lead to points as Harmony Grove punted it away with 7:37 left in the first quarter.
After a Bauxite turnover on downs on the Miners’ ensuing possession, Harmony Grove would start the scoring, using a 59-yard sprint from Newton to set quarterback Logan Whitley up for a 1-yard TD run three plays later. A failed 2-point attempt would leave the score 6-0 Cardinals with 2:03 to go in the first quarter.
Following a 15-yard personal foul after the 2-point try, Bauxite would end up with great field position at Harmony Grove’s 47 following the kickoff.
The Miners would use three plays and a second 15-yard penalty to take its first lead of the game as Dabbs crossed on a 12-yard run. The point-after would be successful for a 7-6 Miners lead.
After punting to end the first quarter, the Cardinals would force its second fumble, but could not turn it into points, punting once more. With 3:23 left in the half, Bauxite would make it 14-6 on a 3-yard run from McDowell that was set up by three runs that went for more than 10 yards each on the drive.
Though driving on the following series, the Cardinals, too, would cough up the rock a second time via fumble, recovered by Bauxite’s Blake Garrett.
The Miners would kneel, sending the game to halftime with Bauxite up 14-6.
Receiving the ball out of the break, Bauxite would turn up the heat on the running game, using seven straight rushes to find the end zone as McDowell went in from a yard away to make it 21-6 with 8:44 to go in the third.
Quarterback Hunter Davis would find receiver Braylon Walker for a 35-yard gain on second-and-25 shortly before the score.
After another punt, the Cardinals would force a third fumble on the Miners, setting up a 12-play, 62-yard scoring drive with Whitley — again — finding the end zone on a 6-yard score.
Harmony Grove would still trail 21-12 after a second failed 2-point attempt.
Despite cutting into the Miners’ lead, Harmony Grove could not keep Bauxite off the scoreboard as the Miners rumbled 52 yards on 10 running snaps as McDowell found the end zone for a third time.
Still with life, Harmony Grove turned to Whitley, who completed a 27-yard TD pass to Hilson on a trick pass following a deep kickoff return. The Cardinals would trail 28-18.
Bauxite would cap the rivalry match with a 5-yard run from McDowell, ending the game in a 35-18 Miners’ win.
Bauxite would finish the game with 379 yards of total offense on 60 plays.
Newton led the Cardinals with six carries for 75 yards in the loss. Senior running back Jake Brooks would touch the rock eight times for 34 yards on the ground.
Whitley finished with 25 yards on eight carries, scoring two touchdowns. He also would go 2 for 4 for 44 yards and a score through the air for Harmony Grove.
The Cardinals totaled 227 yards on 43 plays from scrimmage.
“We made too many mistakes and had too many penalties,” said Harmony Grove Head Coach Mike Guthrie. “But give our kids credit, they played as hard as they could play every snap. We are going to come back and regroup Monday.”
The Cardinals will make the trip to Arkadelphia in Week 7 to take on the defending 4A state champion Badgers.
Arkadelphia beat Fountain Lake 44-0 on Friday, grabbing its first win of the season.
Bauxite will host Fountain Lake next week as it celebrates homecoming at The Pit.
“We will think more about (next week Saturday) morning, but it is a big game,” Patton said. “We need to protect our home field. We have a chance to notch a victory.”
Patton and company have never beaten Fountain Lake in two tries.
Kickoff for both squads is set for 7 p.m.
Homecoming festivities will begin at 6:30 p.m. for Bauxite.