Hazlewood's speed too much for Tharptown

By Staff
Scot Beard
THARPTOWN – Early in Thursday night's game the Hazlewood football team showed Tharptown that the Wildcats' second region game would be as disappointing as their first.
The Golden Bears scored on the second play of the game sparking a 48-0 victory.
"The scoreboard didn't show it, but we saw a lot of improvement from last week," Tharptown coach Barry Laster said. "Pass protection was better and we were able to move the ball better."
The Wildcats (0-2, 0-2) did have several long runs and a few lengthy passes, but every time Tharptown would move into Hazlewood territory the drive would either stall or the Wildcats would commit a turnover.
After the opening score, Tharptown settled in for a drive beginning on their own 25-yard line. Quarterback Tyler Cagle rushed for 26 yards on the drive and completed a pass for 11 yards to Nathan Gray to help Tharptown reach the Hazlewood 27, but an interception ended the drive.
Hazlewood added to its lead on the ensuing drive. Hazlewood's quarterback threw a deep pass that was tipped by a Tharptown defender. Instead of the ball falling to ground, the Hazlewood receiver grabbed the deflection and raced to the end zone for a 65-yard touchdown strike.
Moments later Cagle fumbled a snap and the Golden Bears recovered on the Tharptown 31-yard line. Three plays later Hazlewood punched the ball in for another touchdown, taking a 21-0 lead with 1:50 remaining in the first quarter.
Tharptown ended the first quarter by reaching the Hazlewood 18-yard line with a 36-yard pass to Manny Ricardo and a 15-yard pass to Gray. The Wildcats lost their momentum as the second quarter began.
Tharptown lost 15 yards on a bad snap and was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play setting up second-and-41. The drive was kept alive with a roughing the passer penalty against Hazlewood.
Cagle hit Ricardo for a 14-yard gain to the Golden Bear 14.The next play Cagle threw an interception that was returned to the Wildcat 45-yard line. Hazlewood scored four plays later on a 7-yard pass.
Tharptown put together another drive to the red zone, but a fumble on the Hazlewood 10 would keep the Wildcats out of the end zone in the first half.
Halzelwood drove down the field, but Ricardo broke up a pass in the end zone to prevent the Golden Bears from padding the lead as time expired.
The Golden Bear defense forced a three-and-out to open the second half and then scored on the ensuing drive to push the lead to 34-0.
Tharptown was forced to punt on its next possession, and the special teams unit almost caught a break. The punt touched a Hazlewood player and bounced towards Tharptown, but before a Wildcat could fall on the ball a Hazlewood player picked the ball up and returned it for a touchdown.
"Our guys were kind of sucked to the ball," Laster said. "They're so fast they picked up the ball and ran to the outside."
The Golden Bears added another score on a 57-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
Tharptown had a final drive to try to score, but Cagle hurt his knee when he was hit going out of bounds.
Trevor Hallmark stepped in at quarterback, but without any timeouts, the Wildcats were unable to score.
Laster said Cagle's injury was minor, but he would be examined over the weekend. Laster expects Cagle to play next week at Waterloo.
Even tough the Wildcats are 0-2 in region play, Laster said the playoffs are still a reachable goal for his team.
"We had the roughest two teams in the region right off the bat," Laster said. "I feel the rest of the teams on the schedule are beatable."
Tharptown will play its first road game of the season Friday at Waterloo.

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