CLINTON — The Harmony Grove Cardinals ended their historic season with a heartbreaking loss at Clinton on Friday, falling 48-42 in the second round of the 3A State Playoffs.
Trailing by seven at the break, 28-21, Harmony Grove came out of the half and quickly tied the contest when senior quarterback Hunter Hilson hit receiver Sean Small with a 28-yard strike.
Clinton, though, would answer right back with a 10-yard run from Caleb Bowman.
Both teams continued to trade blows in the fourth quarter as Hilson and Small connected again, this time from 23 yards away.
A near recovery on the ensuing onside kick was Harmony Grove’s final hope before the game ended, along with the Cardinals season.
“It was a really good ballgame to watch,” said Head Coach Paul Calley. “Our kids, as usual, they played their guts out.”
Calley added that his team did not tackle as well as he would have liked at times, giving kudos to Clinton’s “exceptional” quarterback and running backs.
“It was back and forth. We scored late and kicked an onside kick,” Calley said. “I thought we got it but came up a little short.”
Harmony Grove had a scary moment in the third quarter as running back Jake Brooks took a hit the helmet before collapsing on the sideline.
Calley said the junior was taken to an area hospital via ambulance, adding that all of the doctor’s tests came back good.
Brooks finished his night with 59 yards on 14 carries and a score.
Hilson started the Cardinals scoring with a short TD run in the first quarter.
He would find Connor Burrow on a 35-yard TD strike later in the quarter to pull Harmony Grove within 21-14 before Brooks scampered in from 12 yards away to tie it at the end of one.
Clinton would take the first half lead on a 5-yard scrum from Sky Davidson in the second quarter.
Hilson completed his record-setting career at Harmony Grove completing 20 of 29 passes for 234 yards and four touchdowns, along with two interceptions.
He also would rush for 55 yards and a score in the Cardinals loss.
Small was big Friday, hauling in seven receptions for 121 yards and three scores.
“He started cold, but man, he heated up,” Calley said. “He kept us in it running and throwing. He played defense in the second half and I probably should have had him in there in the first half, but he was nursing a little shoulder injury sustained at Hoxie.
“He had a great game. These kids are warriors that just fight their guts out.”
James Webb would collect five catches in the game, followed by Logan Whitley with four grabs and Burrow’s three snags.
Harmony Grove ends its season with eight wins, most by any team in school history.
“I told the coaches after the game that ‘if you would have told me this is how we would finish, I wouldn’t believe you,” Calley said. “Our secondary was struggling early on, but our guys did what they were asked to do and gave effort, were coachable and gave us all they had.
“As a football team, overall, we weren’t nearly as talented as we were last season, but these guys came ready to play every week. We had just enough seniors on the field that they carried us most of the year.
“We were playing really good football at the end.”
HG vs Clinton Box Score 2017