It was David vs. Goliath Friday night in the 8-man quarterfinal matchup as the Hardin-Central Bulldogs traveled to St. Joseph to meet Christian. This time it was Goliath dominating from the third play until the game was called with just over 3 minutes remaining in the third period 74-20.
Matt Dahlgren stepped in front of a Randy Estenbaum pass and raced 25 yards to the end zone on the third play of the game to get the Lions’ scoring started on the way to a 50-6 first period lead.
“We knew it would take a Herculean effort to beat them,” Hardin-Central Coach Kirk Thacker said. “We hoped to come in and play well, and hopefully make a game of it. They are a team loaded with talent. All of their starters with the exception of one weighed over 200 pounds. We have two. Our line was out-weighed by between 50 to 100 pounds per man.”
Christian, now 9-2 moves on to Saturday’s semifinals for a matchup with 8-1 Miami-Amoret. The Eagles bounced DeKalb Friday night, 66-6. The Lions finished as the 8-man runner-up last season.
The young Bulldogs end the season with a 7-4 record.
“I am extremely proud of my boys,” Thacker said. “We have come such a long way this year. We have had our ups and downs, but we learned. Most thought we would not win many games and I do not think anyone thought we would make the playoffs. We fought hard all season. The freshmen and sophomores we have started the season raw, but they have left as seasoned veterans.”
Following Dahlgren’s interception return, Daniel Gregory scored the first of his four touchdowns on a 44-yard run. Chris Wilson put Hardin-Central on the board with a 2-yard run, but the conversion pass was incomplete.
The rest of the night belonged to Christian as Luke Mathes and David Welchert each scored twice for the Lions as they closed out the opening quarter with 34 unanswered points. The Lions would then turn things over to their junior varsity, but the Bulldogs could not slow them down.
Gregory, who ended the night with 68 yards rushing on just five attempts, scored again to begin the second quarter with Wilson returning the ensuing kickoff 68 yards for a touchdown to end the Christian point string.
The Bulldogs got a 21-yard scoring strike from Estenbaum to Wilson for their final score of the season.
Wilson ran for 23 yards on 6 attempts, with Estenbaum completing 9 of 22 passes for 126 yards and 3 interceptions. Wilson also caught 8 passes for 123 yards, with Mark Carpenter grabbing one for 3. Scott Spencer led the Bulldog tackle chart with 13.