MALVERN – The Harmony Grove Cardinals (3-2, 1-1) and their win streak was snapped at three after a 29-24 loss to 7-4A Conference foe Malvern (2-3, 1-1) on Friday night.
“When two teams are this closely matched, (if) you lose the turnover battle, you aren’t going to win the football game,” said a visibly upset Cardinal Head Coach Mike Guthrie after the game. “It wasn’t just the turnovers though, we kept making mental mistakes all night.”
After fumbling the opening kickoff, the Cardinal defense held the Leopard offense to a three-and-out. Then, the Cardinal offense would respond with a 45-yard run by senior Jayce Harrison to put Harmony Grove on the Malvern 5-yard line. Harrison would then punch it in two plays later with a 2-yard touchdown run. A 2-point conversion would give the Cardinals an early 8-0 lead, but things would quickly change.
Late in the first quarter Harmony Grove would punt it away to Malvern where Leopard junior Daylan Ross would take it to the house to make it 8-7. On the ensuing kickoff, the Cardinals would fumble the ball again, giving Malvern excellent field position.
A few plays later, Malvern freshman quarterback Cedric Simmons would find senior Dallas Lewis for a 33-yard touchdown to put the Leopards on top 14-8 after the first quarter.
That lead would hold through the second and third quarters until Harmony Grove’s sophomore quarterback Hunter Williams would cap off a lengthy drive with a 2-yard touchdown drive. Another successful 2-point conversion would give the Cardinals the lead, 16-14, but Malvern would answer.
The ensuing possession would see Malvern’s quarterback Simmons again find receiver Dallas Lewis for a 39-yard pass completion, to set them up from 2 yards out. Simmons would score the next play, and a successful 2-point conversion would make it a 22-16 ballgame.
However, a fumble by Cardinal quarterback Hunter Williams and ensuing touchdown by the Leopard offense with only minutes left would serve as a momentum-killer for the Cardinals. A late touchdown and recovered onside kick by the Cardinals proved to be too little, too late, as they would drop their first game since Week 1.
Coach Guthrie is ready to see whether his team is ready to respond again. “We’re going to find out how they’ll respond on Monday… if they show up ready to practice and respond then we should have a good showing next Friday night.”
Harmony Grove will have another road test next Friday as they travel to take on rival Bauxite Miners (4-1, 2-0) at The Pit.