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A win is a win, but coach Kirk Thacker and his Hardin-Central Bulldogs will gladly accept it. The Bulldogs spent most of Friday night at Union Star chasing Trojan running back Dillon O’Dell, but caught him just enough to bring a 42-36 victory back to Hardin.
O’Dell carried the ball 37 times for 208 yards and five touchdowns, but it wasn’t quite enough to keep the Trojans from dropping to 1-5 for the season, while the Bulldogs snapped a two-game skid and improved to 3-3.
“We sunk to their level of play,” Thacker said. “We had a few bright spots on our line play. Our defense that played so well last week had trouble catching their running back. He was very quick and we didn’t tackle very well. We had the right defense against them, but we just didn’t get the job done.”
Thacker was also concerned about his team being flagged six times for a loss of 70 yards in penalties.
Hardin-Central recovered from an early 6-0 first quarter deficit with touchdowns on its next two possessions on scoring runs of 14 and 56 yards by Chris Wilson, who also had a productive night with 227 yards on 24 carries and five touchdowns.
“It was very good to have Wilson back at full strength,” Thacker said. “Not much else was working except the play call involving him.”
Wilson’s third touchdown of the night, a 10-yard run early in the second period pushed the Dawgs’ lead to 22-6, but O’Dell closed the gap with his first touchdown on a 10-yard run. Wilson and O’Dell traded touchdown runs in the third quarter. Wilson’s covered 15 yards, while O’Dell countered with a 5-yard run, and both 2-point conversions failed leaving Hardin-Central on top 28-20.
A Union Star safety and 5-yard O’Dell touchdown run gave the home team a 30-28 lead early in the final quarter, but Randy Estenbaum’s 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown quickly regained the momentum back for Hardin-Central.
Once again, Wilson and O’Dell traded scoring runs, with O’Dell crashing in from the 3 to get the lead back for the Trojans, but Wilson’s 30-yard burst just three plays later tucked the game away for the Dawgs.
In addition to his kick return, Estenbaum ran for 36 yards on 7 carries. Jake Harris completed just one of his 6 pass attempts for 23 yards, but ran for 41 yards on 8 attempts with a pair of 2-point conversions. Mark Carpenter had the only Bulldog reception, and also led the tackle sheet with 18, while Wilson was in on 14 stops with Estenbaum making 13. Joey Gorham and Cole Leakey were also in double figures with 10 tackles each.