The Hardin-Central Bulldogs proved to be their own worst enemy Friday night at Lee Meador Field. The Bulldogs drew 9 penalty flags for a loss of 70 yards, while turning the ball over on a pair of fumbles and 3 interceptions as West Nodaway played spoiler to the Homecoming festivities with a 22-18 victory.
“We basically shot ourselves in the foot,” Bulldogs’ Coach Kirk Thacker said. “We were lucky to only be down six at the half. We didn’t block anyone all night. Jake Harris had a good game, but most of the time, he was scrambling for his life. We’ve had our chances, but we are our own worst enemy sometimes. We played enough games that we should not be making these mistakes.”
The loss dropped Hardin-Central to 2-3 for the season, while the Rockets picked up their first victory of the 2009 season.
The only first-half scoring came late in the opening quarter as Brent Barnett connected with Dylon Hagey for a 20-yard touchdown pass. The Bulldogs tied the game in the third quarter as Harris found Mark Carpenter for a 68-yard touchdown pass. Hardin-Central failed to make the conversion, and two possessions later, West Nodaway regained the lead on a 4-yard run by Brandon Whittington and the try for 2 was successful for a 14-6 Rocket advantage.
West Nodaway added another 4-yard touchdown run early in the final period, and the Bulldogs countered with a pair of Harris-to-Carpenter touchdown passes, but failed on both 2-point conversions. The first scoring strike covered 44 yards, and the second one was 23 yards. Harris ended the night hitting 12 of his 22 aerial attempts for 275 yards with a pair of interceptions, while Carpenter hauled in 7 of those passes for 202 yards, with Scott Spencer catching the other 5 for 73 yards.
While the Hardin-Central air game had its best night of the season, the rushing attack was slowed to a crawl with just 62 yards on 21 carries.
“They put five and six in the box to stop our running game and forced us to pass,” Thacker said. “We didn’t come out to play until the second half. Mark had an awesome game. If we threw it near him, he was going to catch it.”
Chris Wilson, still shaking off the effects of a neck injury, was held to 27 yards on 5 carries, with Randy Estenbaum adding 30 yards on 11 attempts. Harris picked up 5 yards on 5 carries.
Marcus Perkins led the West Nodaway ground game with 143 yards on 11 attempts as the Rockets picked up 265 yards on the ground.
In addition to catching passes, Carpenter led the Bulldog tackle chart with 21 including a fumble recovery, with Estenbaum in on 13 stops and a fumble recovery.
PHOTO: Randy Estenbaum buries himself as he attempts to drive back West Nodaway running back Marcus Perkins. He is aided by Chris Wilson and Dillon Crosby. The Bulldogs made a fourth-quarter run to try to regain the lead. (Photo by JoEllen Black/The Daily News)