HOXIE- The Harmony Grove Cardinals looked to be easing to victory in the first round of the 3A State Tournament on the long road, but that wasn’t the case. Leading 14-0 at the half over the Hoxie Mustangs on the road, the Cardinals would allow Hoxie to tie the game before going on to a 26-20 Harmony Grove victory and another road trip next week in the second round.
The win for Harmony Grove (8-3) earns the Cardinals a trip to Clinton to face an undefeated Yellowjackets team (11-0), which throttled Fouke 55-20 last night.
On Friday, the Cardinals went to the air early as senior Hunter Hilson found junior receiver Logan Whitley for a 28-yard touchdown pass and 7-0 lead after the first quarter. Hilson and Whitley hooked up again in the second quarter as the two had a 27-yard TD connection and 14-0 lead at the half after a William Vasquez point-after.
“We started off pretty hot,” Cardinal Coach Paul Calley said. “We played we the first half. We had some drops and some penalties that hurt us. In the second half, same thing- we had some drops and some penalties that hurt us.”
The Mustangs weren’t done. Hoxie (6-5) would score a TD on a 26-yard run from Diamani Davis to get within 14-7 of the Cardinals, and quarterback Chandler Spradlin found Chase Moore for a 35-yard TD receptions and 14-14 game after a Carson Spargo point-after in the third quarter.
It was back-and-forth after that as Hilson capped a drive with a 6-yard TD run and 20-14 lead after the point-after was no good and the Cardinals lead by six going into the fourth.
Davis tied things up again for the Mustangs with a 4-yard run, but the Cardinals would take the lead for good as Hilson found junior Sean Small for a 30 yard TD to make it the 26-20 final.
“We did everything we could to give it away, but somehow, someway, found a way to get it done in the end.” Calley said.
Hilson finished 13 of 27 for 230 yards and three TDs without an interception, while also running for 48 yards and a TD.
“He was unbelievable at times,” Calley said of his senior QB.
“He made some great throws. His incomplete passes were pretty much drops. When we had to have it, we were tied at 20 and he had a little injury. He fought through it, took us down the field and threw a touchdown pass. Just a gutty performance by No. 6.”
Junior running back Jake Brooks ran 14 times for 71 yards. Whitley was Hilson’s favorite target coming away with five catches for 78 yards and two TDs, with Small bringing in two for 75 and a TD.
Small also picked off a pass on defense.
For Hoxie, Davis ran for 113 yards and two TDs and Moore had eight catches for 111 yards.
Though, the Cardinals held on last night, Harmony Grove was far from flawless as they will have to address somethings before Friday’s trip to Clinton.
“It’s going to come down to us,” Calley said. “We had about eight people play well on defense (Friday) and have some guys that have to step it up. I was disappointed that some of the kids’ performace made a difference and we’re going to get that fixed.
“Offensively, we had some miscues. I don’t know what the answer is, but we’re going to have to get it fixed or Clinton’s going to be 12-0.”
HG vs Hoxie Box Score