The numbers are staggering.
The Hardin-Central Bulldogs and West Nodaway Rockets combined for 156 points, 56 first downs, 145 plays from scrimmage, 788 yards rushing and 397 yards passing Friday night in their 8-man-football-turned-basketball game at Burlington Junction. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, it was the Rockets doing the most damage on the scoreboard with an 88-68 victory – knocking Hardin-Central to 2-3 for the season.
While the Dawgs controlled the ground game with 513 yards, it was West Nodaway owning the airways as quarterback Cody Moore completed 18 of 30 passes for 274 yards and 4 touchdowns. Chris Wilson led the Hardin-Central ground forces with 391 yards on 48 carries while finding the end zone 5 times. Quarterback Patrick King added 121 yards and a touchdown on 16 rushing attempts while completing 9 of his 13 passes for 123 yards and 3 more touchdowns.
While disappointed with the defensive effort, Hardin-Central Coach Kirk Thacker liked what he saw from his offense.
“The line did a wonderful job,” he said. “Wilson became the workhorse and the line provided him with some big holes. They also gave King plenty of time to throw the ball to Mark Carpenter and Scott Spencer who made some fantastic catches.”
Carpenter hauled in 5 receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown, with Spencer grabbing 2 passes for 51 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Defensively, Thacker said his team did not play well fundamentally.
“Lots of arm tackles and missed opportunities,” he said. “We didn’t help ourselves with the miscues we committed. We just didn’t get the job done.”
Thacker added that his team had two penalties that killed potential scoring drives, in addition to allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown, and a fake punt that turned into another Rocket score.
West Nodaway held a 22-18 lead after the first period, with Hardin-Central coming back to outscore the home team 30-26 in the second quarter. King threw 3 of his touchdown passes in that quarter after tossing one scoring pass in the opening frame. Wilson scored on first-half runs of 26, 5 and 9 before the intermission as the Dawgs trailed 52-44.
The scoring pace continued in the second half as Connor Nicholas, who ended the night with 177 rushing yards on 23 carries, scored three of his four touchdowns on runs of 2, 9 and 40 yards.
Daniel Carpenter had a team-high 12 tackles for Hardin-Central to go along with one interception, while Lukas Milligan was in on 11 tackles and a safety. Wilson and Spencer had 10 tackles apiece for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs’ 2-3 record is that same they had at this point last season when they made their march to the 8-man title game. Thacker said his team knows they can’t afford too many missteps the rest of the way.
“This team knows what it takes to make the playoffs,” he said. “We are five games in and we need to stop making these mistakes and play Hardin-Central football the rest of the season.”