Story & Photos
By Carl Holcomb
A blocked field goal returned for a touchdown in the midst of 28 points scored in the second quarter boosted East Hardy to a 42-6 victory over the Wildcats during homecoming in Franklin last Friday.
One of the biggest highlights of the game was East Hardy senior Quinton Cook scooping up the ball after it was blocked by fellow senior Brett Tharp during a field goal attempt by Pendleton County and dashing 77 yards for the touchdown.
“Quinton is a fourth-year senior and he’s been out there a lot. He is going to have that kind of awareness, because that’s what he does and that’s why he is on the field. He knows what to do and knows how to be at the right spot at the right time. He showed the burners too. Clay [Skovron] does a good job going through progressions. I don’t think he made that many bad decisions. We have a number of guys we can go to. When you say Tharp now, you have to clarify which one. It was nice to have Phillip [Mullin] back out there on the field, we really missed him last week. We have a lot of weapons and Clay has really done well based on his progressions.”
That second quarter barrage was a vast difference to the first quarter which yielded zilch for points.
[private] Pendleton County commenced the game with a 10-play drive spanning 52 yards into the red zone, but couldn’t convert another fourth down play.
On second down from the 38, Pendleton County’s Jared Harman fought through the line and was hauled down by East Hardy’s Adam Larson after a 36-yard run to the 26.
Pendleton County’s Kole Puffenberger was stopped at the line of scrimmage by Ryan Rogers and Tharp defended on a low pass which Josh Wagoner couldn’t corral on a dive, then Cook tackled Harman on a one yard gain.
On fourth down, Larson made a huge hit on Wagoner as the ball was dropped and a pass interference penalty was assessed moving the chains at the 13-yard line.
On third down, East Hardy’s Aden Funkhouser deflected a pass in the end zone and on fourth down it was Larson and Phillip Mullin making a huge stop a yard short of the marker.
Mullins picked up five yards on second down, then an offsides penalty added another five yards on third down, but somehow short of the marker by inches.
East Hardy senior quarterback Clay Skovron converted the third down with a nine yard pickup.
The Cougars managed to get two more yards by Mullin before punting away.
Pendleton County converted second and long on a catch by Timothy Thorne to the East Hardy 47-yard line, but the drive stalled with stops by East Hardy’s Cook, Miller and Funkhouser leading to a punt.
The Cougars started on their own 10-yard line and Funkhouser made a catch and reached the 28-yard line for a first down.
Mullin added five yards, then two incomplete passes with the second deflected at the line of scrimmage and nearly picked off forced a fourth down and a fake punt with Tharp getting close to the marker at the 38.
Pendleton County took over with the short field position, but couldn’t come away with any points as Tharp leapt in the air for the interception as Skovron made the hit on the quarterback.
A 25-yard run by Skovron on second down put East Hardy in Wildcats territory, then Chance Dove made an eight yard catch to the 34 and Skovron snatched the first down to close the first stanza on the 30.
On the first play of the second quarter, Skovron connected with Tharp for a 30-yard touchdown strike and Miller made the extra point for a 7-nil lead at 11:50.
Puffenberger recovered his own fumble on a four yard loss at the 16, then connected with Thorne for a 34-yard reception with Dove tugging on him before leaping on top and Tharp coming over with the assist below to make sure he went down at midfield.
East Hardy seniors Dakoda Sager and Casey Connelley wrapped up Harman for a loss, then Sager chased Puffenberger out of bounds.
Skovron tackled Grant Evick on a four yard catch to force fourth down.
During the punt, the ball went off the foot of Tharp and was recovered by the Wildcats at the eight yard line.
Skovron, Miller and Sager were among those making a defensive stand to create fourth down at the four yard line.
A field goal attempt was blocked by Tharp and Cook recovered the ball at the 23-yard line and was off to the races for the 77-yard touchdown at the 6:23 mark and Miller’s kick made it 14-0.
The Wildcats failed to get a first down on the next possession which included a tackle for a seven yard loss by Skovron, Dove and Miller leading to a punt.
Facing third down, Skovron made a screen pass to Tharp who did a shake and jive to avoid tackles and shifted gears for a 74-yard touchdown at 2:39 and Miller’s kick made it 21-0.
Pendleton County went three and out again with effective group tackling led by Tharp, Sager, Skovron and Cook.
Mullin high stepped away from a tackle attempt during a 26-yard run to the Wildcats 28-yard line.
Skovron’s pass was nearly caught one-handed by Tharp leaping in the corner of the end zone, but that didn’t deter from the attack.
Skovron launched the ball again and to the other side of the field where Jeffrey Mills made the leaping catch for a 28-yard touchdown reception with 56 seconds left in the first half and Miller added the extra point for a 28-nil advantage.
Evict made several catches and Thorne added another to cross midfield, but the fourth down attempt was knocked down with under a second to go.
The Cougars tried one deep pass, but it was no good as time expired to end the half.
East Hardy went three and out to begin the third quarter with stops by Tony Nesslerodt, Puffenberger and Wagoner.
Thorne made a 19-yard catch on second down for the Wildcats to reach the East Hardy 41-yard line where Dove made the tackle.
Puffenberger picked up another first down at the 31-yard line and Skovron made the stop.
A sack on fourth down by Cook gave East Hardy possession at the 35-yard line.
Mullin rushed for four yards, then Dove dodged tackles to reach the Pendleton County 37-yard line which was a 24-yard pickup.
Brett Tharp made a diving 17-yard catch at the 20-yard line, then freshman brother Andrew Tharp was slammed to the ground by Thorne just inside the one yard line on a 19-yard reception.
Mullin punched the ball into the end zone for a touchdown and Miller added the extra point for a 35-0 lead at 5:46.
Funkhouser slammed Evick to the ground for a three yard loss on third down and the Wildcats punted.
Tharp was tackled by Keinyn Lockard at the two yard line, but the Cougars didn’t lose resolve with the shadow of the end zone at their backs as Skovron got breathing room on a six yard gain before tripping into fans.
Skovron added another 12-yards for a first down the 20-yard line and was forced out by Draven Roberts.
Brett Tharp made a 12-yard catch for another first down as East Hardy’s drive picked up momentum.
Mullin hurdled a teammate and stepped away from a potential tackle and carried a pack of Wildcats in reaching the Pendleton County 47-yard line for a first down.
Andrew Tharp made a diving catch at the 32-yard line for a first down.
Mullin dodged tackles after a dropped pas to reach the red zone at the 13-yard line.
Skovron dashed to the outside to get down to the five, then Andrew Tharp caught a four yard pass to the one yard line diving out of the end zone for the ball.
Mullin scored from one yard out with seven seconds left in the third quarter and Miller added the extra point for a 42-0 lead.
Pendleton County scored on the Cougars second defense at the 9:58 mark of the fourth quarter as Wagoner made the 22-yard touchdown catch, but the extra point was blocked for the final score of 42-6.
The Cougars proved their defense claws out for the ball on every play.
“That’s the way we play defense, we fly to the football. Everybody wants to talk about our offense and other than those two state championship games, it’s been an awful long time since somebody has scored 20 points on us. 6-0 is where we wanted to be and where we expected to be. I’m not going to say I’m satisfied with that, because that is what we expected,” Coach Williams concluded.
Skovron went 13-of24 for 256 passing yards with three touchdowns and added 59 yards on the ground.
On the season, Skovron is 88-of-162 for 1,477 passing yards with 15 touchdowns.
Mullin paced the Cougars with nine carries for 68 yards and two touchdowns.
Brett Tharp led East Hardy with five receptions for 128 yards and two touchdowns and brother Andrew made three catches for 47 yards.
East Hardy crashed the homecoming party with the victory to remain undefeated at 6-0 and will host Tucker County this Friday.