Vina tops THS in county battle

THARPTOWN — With both teams out of the playoff chase, Vina and Tharptown could have given up on the season and gone through the motions in their remaining games.

That was not the case Friday night as the county rivals met for a hard-hitting Class 1A, Region 8 showdown.

Vina won the game 23-7, but it was a contest much closer than the final score indicated.

The Red Devils (2-6, 2-4) were in great field position early when they returned a Tharptown punt to the Wildcat 10-yard line. A few plays later Andrew Hester dashed into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run. The Red Devils failed to convert their 2-point conversion, leaving them with a 6-0 lead.

The Wildcat offense sputtered on its second possession and was forced to punt once again. The Red Devils were driving to pad their lead, but Tharptown’s Blake McGee picked off a pass and returned it into Vina territory.

Vina appeared to have another stop, but was penalized for pass interference to give Tharptown a first down. The Red Devils were penalized for a facemask penalty on the next play and moments later were penalized for another facemask penalty to give Tharptown a first-and-goal situation. Mike Rice scampered in from 4-yards out to tie the game and Edgar Bahena gave the Wildcats a 7-6 lead when his PAT sailed through the uprights.

The Red Devils answered on the following drive, but it was not easy. Vina converted on fourth-and-three on the drive and scored on Hester’s second touchdown run of the game. Once again the Red Devils’ 2-point conversion attempt failed, leaving Vina with a 12-7 lead.

Tharptown (0-8, 0-6) responded by picking up a couple of first downs on the ensuing drive before Clay Pierce intercepted a pass and returned it 67-yards for a touchdown. Cody Renfrow run on the 2-point conversion was good and the Red Devils headed into halftime with a 20-7 lead.

Vina got the ball to open the second half and used a strong rushing attack to maintain possession and milk the clock. After nearly eight minutes, the Red Devils’ drive stalled. Adam Pharr — who had been out since the first game of the season with a broken foot — came on and hit a 33-yard field goal for Vina.

Drake Hester, Nick Schmittou and Pharr had one interception each for the Red Devils in the second half.

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