By Russ Green-Sports Editor
The last time the Hardin-Central Bulldogs and Northwest-Hughesville met, the Mustangs were ruining the Homecoming activities and at the same time – handing the Dawgs their third straight loss. Since that 54-24 loss on Sept. 28, the Bulldogs have won their last four games by comfortable margins and Northwest has also had few problems.
Those same two teams meet Friday night – this time at Hughesville, and the stakes are much higher in the second round of the 8-man District 4 playoffs. The Bulldogs steamrolled Lincoln 72-28, while Northwest – by virtue of its No. 2 seeding – drew a first-round bye. The winner will advance to next Friday’s district title game against either Southwest-Livingston or Norborne.
The Bulldogs know they literally gave one away against Northwest in the last meeting. Hardin-Central turned the ball over five times in that Sept. 28 contest with four of those resulting in Mustang touchdowns, including one fumble that was returned for a score. The Dawgs fought back twice from four-touchdown deficits and were within two points twice, but mistakes came back to haunt them.
“Not only mistakes on taking care of the football, but mistakes on penalties,” Hardin-Central Coach Kirk Thacker said. “They’re a good passing team, but that’s really not what beat us. We’ve been watching and dissecting that film and the others we have. The boys have seen that and know we let an opportunity get away. Not saying we would have won, but it would have been a lot closer.”
The Dawgs are also aware of Mustang quarterback Cortlean Austin, who completed 10 of 18 passes to four different receivers for 148 yards in that first meeting. Thacker said Austin is an excellent quarterback.