Car­di­nals Win Thriller

SPE­CIAL TEAMS TUR­MOIL PLAGUES PRAIRIE GROVE IN LOSS TO RI­VAL FARM­ING­TON

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Humphrey

PRAIRIE GROVE — Rhett Rominger never got to play against Prairie Grove although crack­ing Farm­ing­ton’s start­ing lineup as a sopho­more and ju­nior.

“Rhett Rominger was go­ing to be a starter for us as a sopho­more, tore his ACL the week be­fore Prairie Grove,” said Farm­ing­ton coach Mike Adams prior to Fri­day’s sea­son-opener won by Farm­ing­ton, 33-30. “As a ju­nior, he tore the other ACL the same week be­fore Prairie Grove, so we’re not go­ing to prac­tice him this week be­fore we play Prairie Grove, but he’s a big guy.”

Touch­downs by Farm­ing­ton full­backs in­clud­ing Rominger helped the Car­di­nals jump out to a 20-6 half­time ad­van­tage.

Rominger scored the first time he han­dled the foot­ball run­ning off left tackle be­hind the surge of of­fen­sive line­men Chuck Carl­son and Dentin Fletcher to break the plane and put Farm­ing­ton on the board as the Car­di­nals pounded the ball in on four straight runs after re­cov­er­ing a Prairie Grove fum­bled snap while in punt for­ma­tion. Kolton Reeves kicked the point-after and Farm­ing­ton en­joyed a 7-0 lead 4:09 into the first quar­ter.

After Lane Dal­ton ripped off a 43-yard touch­down jaunt for Prairie Grove to pull the Tigers within, 7-6, Farm­ing­ton main­tained the lead by block­ing the point-after kick.

At the hy­brid out­side/line­backer po­si­tion for the Tigers was se­nior Ethan Scates (5-10, 170), who starts at quar­ter­back, see­ing a lot of ac­tion. In a per­fect world the Tigers wouldn’t play Scates on de­fense, but he was too valu­able as a de­fender not to.

“Ethan is smart, he knows what he is do­ing back there,” said Prairie Grove de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Craig Laird. “I love guys play­ing one-way on de­fense. We can talk, we can fix things on the side­line. When you have guys go­ing two ways you have to wait un­til half­time.”

The Car­di­nals scored twice in the fi­nal 2:47 of the first half to gain sep­a­ra­tion on the score­board.

Spe­cial teams again turned mo­men­tum in Farm­ing­ton’s fa­vor. A big rush from the edge forced a shanked Tiger punt which trav­eled only six yards and Farm­ing­ton set up shop at Prairie Grove’s 45-yard­line.

Se­nior quar­ter­back Eric Hill was 2-of-2 for 26 yards lead­ing a 6-play drive capped by his 17-yard touch­down pass to tight end Ben Macedo. Reeves added the P.A.T. and Farm­ing­ton was up 14-6. Trace South re­cov­ered a Prairie Grove fum­ble 18 sec­onds later pois­ing the Car­di­nals to strike again and they did.

Find­ing no­body open, Hill bought time by rolling to his right, then know­ing the clock was about to ex­pire, de­liv­ered a pin-point 10-yard touch­down pass to se­nior full­back Sean O’Con­nell with two sec­onds left in the half.

“Sean O’Con­nell is a se­nior, whom we moved from of­fen­sive line to full­back dur­ing the sea­son last year and has had a good spring and early sum­mer,” Adams said. “He’s a big kid. He’s 6-1, and about 215. Rhett Rominger an­other se­nior, whose been hurt the last two years,

he hasn’t been able to play, but he’s a 6-feet, 220 pound guy that can run a lit­tle bit and has great strength. He’s a 300-pound bench-presser. So, those are two big guys that we can work in there that we feel pretty good about.”

Farm­ing­ton was def­i­nitely feel­ing good about hold­ing a 14-point half­time lead, which they in­creased to 33-12 to be­gin the fourth quar­ter.

In the third quar­ter, Farm­ing­ton pro­duced two more touch­downs sand­wiched around Jared Harger 5-yard scor­ing run for Prairie Grove. The Car­di­nals scored on Hill’s 2-yard run, but couldn’t con­vert the point-after mid­way through the pe­riod; and later when quar­ter­back Seth Swain com­pleted a screen pass to Tony Mayo on third down. Mayo dodged a tackle and used his speed to run for a 42-yard touch­down. Reeves’ kick pushed the Car­di­nal lead to 21 points.

Prairie Grove re­fused to cash in their chips and roared its of­fense back to life with three touch­downs in the fourth quar­ter. Ethan Scates and Ja­cob Wat­son hooked up on a 50-yard touch­down pass and Gar­rett Hel­temes twice ran for touch­downs, the sec­ond of which came with 2:04 re­main­ing.

In the end, fail­ure to con­vert all five touch­downs cost Prairie Grove the game; while Farm­ing­ton came up with one more big play on spe­cial teams when South re­cov­ered an on­side kick en­abling the Car­di­nals to run out the clock.

FARM­ING­TON 33, PRAIRIE GROVE 30

Farm­ing­ton 7 13 13 0 — 33 Prairie Grove 0 6 6 18 — 30 First Quar­ter

Farm­ing­ton — Rhett Rominger 1-yard run (Kolton Reeves kick), 7:51.

Sec­ond Quar­ter

Prairie Grove — Lane Dal­ton 43yard run (kick blocked), 8:27.

Farm­ing­ton — Ben Macedo 17-yard pass from Eric Hill (Kolton Reeves kick), 2:47.

Farm­ing­ton — Sean O’Con­nell 10-yard pass from Eric Hill (pass failed), :02.

Third Quar­ter

Farm­ing­ton — Eric Hill 2-yard run (pass failed), 6:02.

Prairie Grove — Jared Harger 5-yard run (run failed), 3:49.

Farm­ing­ton — Tony Mayo 42yard pass from Seth Swain (Kolton Reeves kick), :24.

Fourth Quar­ter

Prairie Grove — Ja­cob Wat­son 50-yard pass from Ethan Scates (run failed), 11:52.

Prairie Grove — Gar­rett Hel­temes 1-yard run (pass failed), 4:55.

Prairie Grove — Gar­rett Hel­temes 3-yard run (run failed), 2:04.

MARK HUMPHREY EN­TER­PRISE-LEADER

Prairie Grove se­nior full­back Gar­rett Hel­temes main­tains his bal­ance while a tack­ler tries to roll him over. Hel­temes burst up the mid­dle for 22 yards on this play, epit­o­miz­ing Prairie Grove’s fight­ing spirit as it over­came a 33-12 fourth-quar­ter deficit Fri­day be­fore los­ing to ri­val Farm­ing­ton.

MARK HUMPHREY EN­TER­PRISE-LEADER

Prairie Grove se­nior full­back Gar­rett Hel­temes steps over a would-be tack­ler after get­ting into the sec­ondary. Hel­temes ran for two touch­downs in less than a three-minute span of the fourth quar­ter, but Prairie Grove couldn’t catch up.

MARK HUMPHREY EN­TER­PRISE-LEADER

Prairie Grove se­nior full­back Gar­rett Hel­temes surges back to his feet es­cap­ing a would-be tackle. Hel­temes’ 22-yard scam­per set up Lane Dal­ton’s 43-yard touch­down run on the next play.

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