by Corby Lucas
Harding Athletic Director
For the second time in school history, the Harding Generals varsity football team finished the season unbeaten. What started out as a tight game through the first quarter and a half was blown open to a 21-7 lead at halftime and the Generals never looked back tacking on four second half scores for the decisive margin of victory against homestanding Mt. Juliet Christian Academy (MJCA).
Quarterback Ryan Schmadtke ‘18 connected with Reid Buschmann ‘17 on a fade route on the first offensive possession for a quick 6-0 lead. MJCA came right back and answered with a powerful running game, putting up a score and an extra point to take a 7-6 lead. The Saints kept the lead into the second quarter until Schmadtke broke free for a touchdown run and added the two-point conversion with a throw to Buschmann on a slant route. Up 14-7, the Generals stopped MJCA on their subsequent possession and with :58 to go before the half, went into their “attack” offense and proceeded to drive 60 yds. for a score with only :06 left in the half. These two quick scores took the air out of MJCA heading into halftime.
The Generals received the second half kickoff and on the first play from scrimmage, Schmadtke once again took a quarterback counter the distance and added the extra point for a 28-7 lead. The complete team effort saw the defense score the next points when Luke Haley ‘17 stepped in front of a slant route from his outside linebacker position and raced to the endzone for a pick six. Harding extended their lead to 35-7. On the Saints next possession, Harding defensive end Jordan Turner (USN) blocked a punt that was picked up by Will Morrison ‘17 who took it in for a score and a 42-7 lead.
After an MJCA touchdown, William Myers ‘17 took over at quarterback and took a quarterback sweep to the endzone for the final Harding score and a 49-14 victory. It was the first time since 2010 that the Generals completed a football season unbeaten.
Having a strong contingent of eighth grade leaders was a critical part of the success of this team. Mason McKee ‘17 anchored the middle of the offensive and defensive lines. William Myers provided great leadership at quarterback and tight end throughout the season. The trio of Will Morrison, Reid Buschmann, and Andrew Garrett ‘17 provided speed on the perimeter and were outside receiving threats that most teams found very difficult to defend. Luke Haley provided balance in the offense from his running back position and was a steady defensive presence at outside linebacker. Drew Lancaster ‘17 and TJ Payne (USN) also provided great special teams play and Drew saw significant time at fullback with TJ getting a lot of snaps at cornerback on defense. This group will be missed next year, but they set the right example for success with the leadership they provided.
Harding Finishes Regular Season Unbeaten