John Hardin Beats Central Hardin by a Foot! (One Actually)
John Hardin beats Central Hardin by a Foot!
One of the best games played in the area occurred last Friday at Central Hardin as the Bruins hosted the John Hardin Bulldogs in a game which had a little bit of everything including controversy. The last several years, the matchup between the two has had a lingering effect in the winners outcome as the Bullogs won a slugfest in 2016 and eventually made a Final Four appearance before losing to Franklin Simpson under head coach Chris Engstrand while Central Hardin lost in the first round of the playoffs after quarterback Reece Iler left against Ballard in overtime.
Last year, Central Hardin pulled out a classic 27-12 victory which paved the way towards a Final Four appearnance of their own. This time with both teams combining for three wins after four weeks of play it proved to be a pivotal game and it may have been decided in the fourth quarter as John Hardin overcame a 17-6 deficit to win 22-17. The Bulldogs got a strong performance by their defense which shutout the Bruins, who were on their fourth quarterback because of injuries and climaxed a pressure packed drive with a clutch 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Russell to Trever Nelson. Nelson’s catch which came in the right corner of the end zone on what looked like a fade route and brought the stadium to a moment (several in fact) of silence.
As the Bulldogs celebrated their comeback, the Bruin fans quickly found their voices and emotionally questioned whether the catch in the end zone was legit. Several Bruin defenders got into the act and the team was flagged for 45-yards in penalties thus forcing the ensuing kickoff to occur in an impossible position for a Central Hardin comeback. The scoring pass to Nelson was his first ever and came with only 11-seconds remaining and the pressure packed drive with happened after the free kick which came as of a result of the Bulldogs defense tackling Bruin quarterback Cody Moore in the end zone for a safety was a vintage beat the clock deal which featured several runs and a critical 13-yard catch by Darion Davis which moved the ball closer to the five yard line. Davis’ catch came after runningback Will Carson nearly gave the ball right back when he was hit, but outfought several desperate Bruin defenders to the ball.
It was a classic John Hardin – Central Hardin game which showcased a lot of handoffs and only 17-passes by both teams. The Bruins only threw the ball twice. The Bruins looked like they were in control midway through the third quarter when the teams exchanged turnovers and Central Hardin eventually scored on a Josh Volentine 3-yard run to make it 17-6 as the fourth quarter began.
The Bulldogs came right back when Russell rolled out and hit Markelius Hill for a spectacular 49-yard touchdown catch in which he ran a crossing route going from right to left and caught the defense napping as he raced down the left sideline to score. That play may have changed everything as the Bulldogs cut the lead to 17-14 and a safety made it 17-16 leading up to the John Hardin’s big scoring drive. Still, the play that everyone was talking about was Nelson’s catch which will forever be a part of the John-Central lore depending how you look at it. Whether he had a foot (or both feet) in bounds while maintaining control was a big issue and it was a tough call at game speed.
Either way, someone was going to be unhappy regardless of the call. Both Engstrand and Bruin coach Tim Mattingly will have things to address, but one coach will feel a little bit better at least for one week anyway.