Phillips overpowers THS
By Brannon King
For the FCT
The 2014 football regular season got off to a slow start for the Tharptown Wildcats Friday night in Bear Creek against the Phillips Bears. Tharptown fell in the season opener, 48-6.
The Wildcats couldn’t find an answer for the high-powered offensive attack of the 2-0 Bears.
Phillips quarterback Austin Campbell led the way for the Bears throwing four touchdown passes in the win.
Phillips got off to a 24-0 first quarter lead and was ahead 40-0 at the half.
Tharptown was able to get on the board late in the contest when Heath Hatton connected with Allen Gaston for a 6-yard TD pass.
“We didn’t play like I thought we would play and I’m not sure why,” Tharptown head coach Bill Smith said after the game.
“We had a lot of breakdowns up front. Our offense never could get going and our secondary, right now, is real weak to the pass.
“We’ve got a long way to go. It’s going to depend on how they step up and take it. The season’s just starting. We can either get better or we can hide our heads and faces and forget about it.”
The way his team played was not the outcome Smith was expecting.
“I’ve been high on them this summer and the beginning of fall because they have worked hard but they just went all to pieces after things went bad tonight and you just can’t do that and win.”
Phillips took their opening drive of the game and scored after only three plays.
Campbell found Tyler Britnell for a 45-yard TD pass to start the scoring. He then converted the two-point conversion with a pass to Tyler Crumpton and the Bears led 8-0 with 8:37 left in the first quarter.
A quick three-and-out by Tharptown gave the ball back to Phillips after a punt and it didn’t take long for the Bears to find the end zone again.
Austin Clay took a handoff and raced 34 yards for a score. The Campbell to Crumpton connection added the try for two, making the score 16-0.
The next Tharptown drive was short-lived as David Lawler of Phillips recovered a fumble on first down.
The Bears took advantage of the mistake when Campbell found Josh Hyde on fourth down for a 30-yard TD completion. Tyler Britnell caught the two-point conversion and with 3:00 left in the first quarter, the Bears were well on their way to victory leading 24-0.
Early in the second quarter, Tharptown’s Arturo Meneses stopped Campbell behind the line for a big defensive play.
On the next snap, Campbell launched a beautiful pass that Crumpton was able to run under and catch for an 88-yard touchdown pass. Josh Hyde then caught the try for two making the score 32-0.
Tharptown’s Mike Rice later recovered a fumble by the Bears for a bright spot for the Wildcats before the half.
The following drive for Tharptown went all the way down to the 1-yard-line of the Bears before a fumble ended the scoring threat.
Three plays later, Campbell found Josef Bates for a 75-yard TD pass. Bates added the PAT with a run making the score 40-0.
Tharptown then got deep into Phillips territory again, but came up empty as the half ended with the Wildcats at the 7-yard-line of the Bears.
Eduardo Lopez of Tharptown sacked the quarterback on a fourth down play that gave the ball back to the Wildcats in the third quarter.
On the following play, Tharptown fumbled the ball right back to the Bears. Five plays later, Tharptown’s Jacob Risley picked off a pass to give the ball back to the Wildcats.
Phillips ended the scoring when Josef Bates took the kickoff back for a touchdown just after the Hatton to Gaston Tharptown TD pass.
Raymond Hart made the final score 48-6 by running in the two-point try for the Bears.
Tharptown will travel to Hackleburg next to take on the Panthers.