Saturday, November 20, 2010

SPORTS>>Keese unlocks victory as Wildcats move on

Leader sportswriter

Seth Keese made sure Friday’s second round 3A playoff game against Bald Knob was not his last home game as a Harding Academy Wildcat as he led his team to a 41-14 victory.

The senior quarterback/defensive back threw for 308 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another 104 yards and two more scores to help the Wildcats to next week’s quarterfinals in which they will host Rison.

“We knew what to expect; we knew it was going to happen,” Keese said. “We had two weeks to prepare for this game, and the defensive line did a great job of putting pressure on their quarterback.

“As far as offense, our line made some really wide holes for me to run through. When it comes to a great game on both sides it’s not just me, it takes everyone. We all hustled tonight.”

The Bulldogs (9-3) threatened to make a game of it early in the third quarter after falling behind 28-0 in a first half that was all Harding Academy. But Landry Shipman intercepted Bald Knob quarterback Cordell Crisp to set up a 77-yard touchdown pass from Keese to Jay Bona that pushed the score to 35-6.

“We felt like we needed to pressure him,” Harding Academy coach Roddy Mote said of Crisp. “We couldn’t just let him sit back there in the pocket. We mixed it up on him. Sometimes we sent two and dropped nine; other times we’d send seven. The kids played hard and never let up on their intensity all night.”

Crisp, a sophomore, showed flashes of being a solid pocket passer, but also threw four interceptions, two of which were grabbed by Keese.

“It just kills your momentum,” Bulldogs coach Paul Johnston said. “We had a couple of passes we felt like could have turned into big plays for us, but they went the other way. Keese pretty much took over this thing.”

Keese set up the drive that sent the game into the sportsmanship/timing rule with an interception at the Wildcats 24 with 10:43 left to play. He found Corey Guymon on a 57-yard pass play to set up first and goal at the 2, and Ben Lecrone ran it in for the score on the following play to start the clock running almost continuously.

The Wildcats showed balance on their first scoring drive with first-down runs by Keese mixed with a 36-yard pass play to Bona that set Harding Academy up with a first down at the Bald Knob 30-yard line.

Keese found Bona again on the next play for a 10-yard gain before taking it to the 1-yard line on a quarterback draw up the middle.

Keese lost two yards on the next play, but connected with Ben Lecrone for a three-yard touchdown pass with 6:05 left in the first quarter. Josh Spears added the extra point to make it 7-0.

Harding Academy struck much faster on its next drive, as Keese kept for a 42-yard touchdown run on the third play of the drive and successfully threw to Bona for a two-point conversion.

Spears increased the margin to 18-0 with 9:16 left in the first half when he hit a 46-yard field goal.

The Wildcats started the drive at their 37 and advanced into Bulldog territory with a six-yard run by Lecrone followed by two five-yard scrambles by Keese, the first of which was aided by a 15-yard face mask penalty.

That moved Harding Academy to the Bald Knob 30-yard line. The Wildcats appeared to have pushed the ball inside the 20 three plays later when Keese completed a pass to Bona for 22 yards, but a second straight holding call backed the Wildcats to the 28.

Jordan Johnston tackled Keese for a one-yard loss to bring up fourth down and Spears’ kick from the right hash mark took a sharp hook but went just inside the left upright.

The Wildcats stayed with their passing game on the next drive until the final play.

They started after Lecrone returned Bald Knob’s punt to the Bulldog 30. Keese completed a pair of 10-yard passes to Lecrone following a holding call that backed the Wildcats up to the 40, and hit Bona for an 11-yard pickup.

The Bulldogs were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct following the play, which set Harding Academy up with a first and goal at the 5.

Keese kept for the five-yard touchdown run up the middle with 3:16 left in the first half to make it 25-0.

Spears struck one more time for the Wildcats on the final play of the half with a 22-yard field that made it 28-0 at halftime.