There was a catastrophic ship-wreck in Baker as East Hardy demolished the Vikings 72-0 last Friday during senior night.
Rebounding from a loss the previous week, the Cougars (7-3) pounced on the gridiron with a vengeance, sending seniors Tyler Smith, Troy Miller, Hunter Miller,and Tyler Murphy out on a high note, to conclude the regular season.
This demonstrative victory helps with confidence and momentum heading into the playoffs, but it was at the expense of winless Petersburg (0-10).
“They learned a lesson last week. The attitude was a total 180 degree turn in practice on Monday. They learned what coming out flat and having a bad week of practice can do. They came out this week focused and did their job,” East Hardy Coach Chad Williams commented.
[private] “This is a great group of kids and there’s not many of them. When they started as freshmen there were 11 of them and now there’s only four. They’ve stuck it out for their first couple years on the bench of some really good teams. Here they are now 72-0, that’s a good way to go out. I know 72-0 can look bad, but anybody that was here knows we did it the right way. The JVs were in halfway through the second quarter and we shortened up the quarters. I hope there’s no ill-will over the score. Even the JVs got in there and played hard.”
East Hardy scored three touch-downs in the first quarter and added five touchdowns in eight minutes of the second quarter for a 56-0 advantage at halftime.
The Vikings couldn’t find a first down on their first two possessions resulting in punts, while East Hardy scored a touchdown on every possession of the first half except the last one.
East Hardy quarterback Corey McDonald connected for 8-of-12 passes for 273 yards and six touch-downs.
McDonald found Brett Tharp open for a 34-yard touchdown strike to conclude an eight-play, 54-yard initial drive for a 6-0 edge at 8:59.
East Hardy only needed three plays to score after a Vikings punt, as Murphy caught a 51-yard touchdown pass and Smith added the conversion after collecting a bouncing lateral for a 14-0 lead at 5:42.
East Hardy’s Dylan Fogel and Luke French stopped Petersburg’s Chris Halterman for a four yard loss on a reception.
Halterman was halted, brought down again by Austin Whetzel and Hunter Miller after a holding penalty.
A bad snap created a loose ball and the Cougars recovered as Tharp jumped on it at Petersburg’s 20-yard line.
East Hardy’s Jesse Miller had a touchdown run called back on a chop block.
Facing 3rd-and-30, McDonald found Smith for a conversion at the four yard line.
Smith rushed the ball in for the score and added two points on a pitch with 2:33 left in the first quarter, 22-0.
East Hardy’s Ricky Robinson provided a crushing hit to Petersburg’s Blake Landis along the sidelines for a loss, then Troy Miller and Whetzel created another tackle for loss.
The Vikings punted after collecting their own fumble.
A pass interference call and a 10-yard run up the gut by Smith put the Cougars into the red zone by the end of the frame.
Petersburg’s Ryan Reynolds got a sack and there was a fumbled pitch which was a temporary setback for the Cougars.
East Hardy went to the air as McDonald threaded a pass to Tharp for a 27-yard touchdown on 4th-and-22 at the 11:13 mark.
A jarring hit forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Murphy recovered it for the Cougars.
Three plays later, East Hardy was back in the end zone as Tharp cut across the field on a 15-yard touchdown catch at 10:05, 34-0.
After a punt by the Vikings, Tharp scored his fourth touchdown on an 18-yard reception on the third play from scrimmage and McDonald added the conversion for a 42-0 advantage with 7:13 left in the first half.
East Hardy’s Dalton Dotson recovered a fumble during the kick-off at the 20-yard line.
Jesse Miller moved the ball down to the six yard line.
Smith scored from five yards out and the conversion failed, 48-0.
Petersburg managed only five yards and punted.
McDonald found Murphy and the rest was history with his track speed racing to a 74-yard touch-down and Miller added the conversion at 3:11 making it 56-0.
The Vikings fumbled again on the kickoff, with Tharp getting it.
Bryce Strawderman took over at quarterback for the Cougars and Phillip Mullin got the handoffs.
Mullin took the second half opening kickoff to the house with an 85-yard touchdown return and added the conversion for a 64-0 advantage.
The teams agreed on six minute quarters in the second half and that play only took 15 seconds.
One highlight for the Vikings was converting a fourth down on a fake punt pass, but turned the ball over on fumble the very next play with Mullin finding it.
East Hardy put Clay Skovron in as quarterback and he got sacked and had to track down a high snap before an incompletion and punt.
Skovron made up for it with a long run to end the third quarter and at the start of the fourth quarter made an eight yard touchdown pass to Austin Fridley and added the conversion for the final score of 72-0 at 5:52.
“We were in either way, so it wasn’t so much about the seeding. It’s more along the lines of you don’t want to go into the play-offs reeling. We needed a positive bounce back and not just the game, but the week we had. We’re used to it, every trip in the playoffs is a long trip for us. You get on a bus and go, that’s all you can do.
My playoff week consists of watching game film and having zero sleep and a lot of coffee,” Coach Williams remarked.
Williams now has a career record of 52-34 in eight seasons.
“Obviously it means a lot to me and to do it so quickly. It’s not just me, it’s the players who have come through and the coaching staff.
This is the best coaching staff this year, they are excellent coaches in their own right and fit perfectly together. This is five years in a row in the playoffs and we aren’t going anywhere. I don’t see any reason for that train to stop,” Williams concluded.
East Hardy will play Notre Dame at Bridgeport High School in the first round of the Class A State Football Playoffs this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. [/private]