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Trailing 32-28 at the half, the Hardin-Central Bulldogs answered with a 26-14 scoring edge in the third period on the way to a 60-46 victory over the visiting Southwest Wildcats Friday night at Lee Meador Field.
The 1-2 Wildcats had grabbed a 32-20 lead on touchdown runs of 54 and one yard by Dylan Haney, who ended the night with 183 yards on 28 carries. Just before halftime, Jake Harris found the end zone on a 4-yard run, and then ran the conversion to cut the visitors’ lead to 4 points.
“We played a very poor first half,” Hardin-Central Coach Kirk Thacker said. “We didn’t have any fire when we came out to start the game and we didn’t block or tackle well.”
It was a different Bulldog team in the second half as they took the lead on their first possession with Chris Wilson scoring on a 44-yard run as part of his 324-yard, 4-touchdown performance. Justin Jones would answer for Southwest with a 34-yard run to give the lead back to the visitors.
Wilson put the Dawgs on top for good with touchdown runs of 55 and 28 yards, and after Southwest put another touchdown on the board, Wilson tacked on a 58-yard scoring run before the third period ended. Randy Estenbaum would put the game out of reach with a 21-yard scoring run in the final frame.
“We had a complete turn around for the second half,” Thacker said. “We established our running game and got our blocking assignments taken care of. They tried to shut down our run in the first half and we burned them with our passing game.”
Harris completed 9 of his 15 passes for the night for 129 yards and 3 touchdowns. Mark Carpenter caught 4 of those passes for 95 yards and a pair of scores, with Estenbaum grabbing a 14-yard scoring strike.
“Mark and Jake had a great first half,” Thacker said. “In the second half, we let Chris take over. We knew we were in better shape and we just kept hitting them. We still didn’t tackle well in the second half and our pass defense was just awful. We have to get that fixed quick because South Holt likes to throw.”
The Harris-to-Carpenter combination got the scoring started for the evening on a 17-yard play, and those two hooked up again in the second period on a 24-yard play. Harris connected with Estenbaum to begin the second quarter, and Estenbaum would put the finishing touches on the evening with a 21-yard scoring run in the final period to push the Bulldogs to 2-1 for the season.
In addition to his receiving, Carpenter led the tackle chart with 19, while recovering a fumble and picking off a Wildcat pass. Estenbaum had 10 tackles with 2 sacks, while Scott Spencer had 9 tackles and an interception.
Photo: Hardin-Central’s Chris Wilson was a tough man to pull down in the second half of Friday’s game against the Southwest Wildcats. Wilson scored four touchdowns and rushed for 324 yards. (Photo by JoEllen Black/The Daily News)