The Hardin-Central Bulldogs entered their 2009 season opener at home with Nodaway-Holt a little banged up from the previous week’s jamboree. That gave several younger Bulldogs a chance to hit the field for their first varsity action. The younger Dawgs learned some valuable lessons in a 50-12 loss to the visiting Trojans at Lee Meador Field.
“We made some big mistakes tonight, but it will get better,” Bulldog Coach Kirk Thacker said. “We had lots of penalties that killed drives and many mistakes by our young players. It will take a while, but we will improve. We did not tackle well or be as aggressive as I had hoped.”
Thacker added his team did not carry out its blocking assignments, but that is something that will be addressed in this week’s preparation.
The Trojans scored on their first possession of the night after the defense forced the Bulldogs to punt. Nodaway-Holt took nine plays to move the ball down the field with Patrick O’Riley crashing in from 2 yards out for the initial score for the 2009 season. The run for two points was good, but the Bulldogs bounced back to get back in the game at the beginning of the second period.
Sophomore quarterback Randy Estenbaum hooked up with Mark Carpenter for a 7-yard scoring strike to break the ice for the Bulldogs, but the two-point conversion pass fell incomplete.
Nodaway-Holt then answered with three touchdowns by Michael Brown before the intermission to regain control of the contest. Brown, who ended the night with 93 yards rushing on 13 attempts, ran for scores of 22, 17 and 9 yards as the Trojans built a 28-6 cushion at the half.
The Trojan defense got on the board in the second half, as Andrew Strauch recovered a Hardin-Central fumble in the end zone for a 36-8 advantage following the conversion run.
The Dawgs got back on the board early in the final period with Jake Harris and Chris Wilson combining for a 38-yard touchdown pass. However, the run for conversion was stopped short. Nodaway-Holt added two more fourth quarter touchdowns.
Wilson was the leading rusher for Hardin-Central with 100 yards on 22 carries, while Estenbaum added 40 more on 14 attempts. Estenbaum completed 3 of his 9 pass attempts for 22 yards, and Harris was 2 for 3 passing for 42 yards.
Mark Carpenter led the defensive effort for the Bulldogs with 17 tackles and a fumble recovery, with Scott Spencer in on 10 stops to go along with an interception. Wilson had a half dozen tackles and a sack, with Cole Leakey recovering a Trojan fumble.