Tharptown falls 41-8 in region debut

By Staff
Kim West
THARPTOWN – It was a tale of two halves at Tharptown Stadium Friday night as Speake spoiled Tharptown's season opener and first-ever region game with a 41-8 victory.
Speake, the Class 1A, Region 8 runner-up last year, displayed a relentless rushing attack early on as the Bobcats scored five touchdowns on 370 rushing yards and 10 first downs in the first half.
Speake led 23-0 after the first quarter after a pair of rushing scores by Joseph Hyde, a 1-yard touchdown from quarterback Cody Voss and a safety off a punting miscue by Tharptown. The Bobcats went ahead 35-0 at halftime with two second-quarter scoring runs by Josh Cooper and Jonathan Gillespie.
Tharptown, which utilized the spread in its first full varsity schedule last season, installed the veer offense this fall after assistant Barry Laster was hired in July to fill the vacancy left by Dale Overton. The Wildcats struggled to find their rhythm in the first half but came back strong in the second half as the defense held Speake to only three first downs and 107 yards in the second half.
"I'm proud of their efforts, and they fought hard and didn't give up after falling behind," said Tharptown coach Barry Laster. "We faced a tough Speake team tonight, and we knew that coming in they would give us a good game. I thought Trevor Hallmark ran the ball well for us, and Tyler Cagle performed well under pressure for us because they were getting to him all night long.
"We're going to work hard on some things we need to improve on and get ready for next week."
After Voss found Cooper for a 30-yard touchdown with no time left in the third quarter to put Speake ahead 41-0, Tharptown answered by forcing a three-and-out series for the Bobcats with three consecutive tackles for a loss, including a 5-yard takedown by sophomore Brandon Cothrum.
On the following drive, Tharptown scored the game's only fourth-quarter touchdown with 2:46 remaining. With the Wildcats starting at their own 46-yard line, sophomore fullback Trevor Hallmark reeled off a pair of runs for 24 yards to move the chains for the Wildcats. Senior quarterback Tyler Cagle capitalized by lofting a perfect 30-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Jacob Parker, who beat double-coverage near the right pylon. Cagle then powered his way into the end zone behind 6-0, 270-pound senior center Chad West to add the two-point conversion and make the final score 41-8.
"Our schedule this season is a lot tougher than last year but we can handle it," Cagle said. "We still expect to go 9-1 after tonight – we just need to get mentally tougher.
"I thought Manny Ricardo stepped up tonight, and Trevor Hallmark, Zach Sockwell, Nathan Gray and Jarrod Seay all had good games for us."
Ricardo hauled in five receptions for 49 yards, including a 32-yard grab in the second quarter, to lead Tharptown. Cagle, who teamed up with Sockwell to sack Voss for a 5-yard loss in the third quarter, finished with 107 yards of total offense and was 7-of-18 passing for 78 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Hallmark led the Wildcats in rushing with 36 yards on five carries, while Nathan Gray added 22 yards on only three carries.
Tharptown will host No. 5 Hazlewood this Thursday at 7 p.m.
The defending region champion Golden Bears defeated R.A. Hubbard 37-13 in its season opener Friday.

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