Cardinals Win Thriller
SPECIAL TEAMS TURMOIL PLAGUES PRAIRIE GROVE IN LOSS TO RIVAL FARMINGTON
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.