MEADOW BRIDGE — Conventional wisdom will more often than not tell you that committing six turnovers while playing on the road won’t land a team in the win column.
Conventional wisdom was wrong on this night.
The East Hardy Cougars suffered through six Meadow Bridge takeaways Friday at Frank Arritt Stadium, but the Cougars did enough in the end to secure a 21-14 victory and make the long trip home a lot easier.
“That was the message,” said East Hardy coach Devon Orndorff, whose squad turned the ball over five times in its last game. “We’re prone to turnovers, but that’s something that is fixable.
“Meadow Bridge played a great game; they’re a real good ball team. But I was proud of my players for jelling together and sticking together.”
After the Wildcats took advantage of one of the East Hardy miscues - an interception by Meadow Bridge’s James McClure - to tie the game at 14-all on a 5-yard touchdown run by Dustin Adkins and the Kyle Hinken PAT kick in the third quarter, the visitors answered midway through the final quarter.
Quarterback Christian Dove capped a five-play, 54-yard drive with a 16-yard score on a keeper, and the Noah Lang PAT kick made the score 21-14 with 6:57 left in the contest. Meadow Bridge was whistled for two encroachment calls on the game-winning march.
Meadow Bridge had a three-and-out on its next possession, and the Cougars ran out the clock with a drive that took them inside the 10-yard line.
“They were so much more physical inside than we were,” said Meadow Bridge coach Dwayne Reichard, whose Class A No. 12 Wildcats fell to 2-2. “We needed to establish some type of inside running game and didn’t.
“It came down to they made a couple more plays than we did. I thought it was a hard-fought game.”
Meadow Bridge drew first blood on a nice 35-yard scoring toss from Adkins to Rian Cooper midway through the opening quarter. That score was set up by a Hunter Claypool fumble recovery.
The Cougars responded, though, with a pair of second-quarter TDs to take control.
First, Andrew Tharp collected a 60-yard TD pass from Cole Pusl, then Brayden Ritchie snared a 4-yard halfback scoring pass from Dove to make it 14-7 at the break. The second East Hardy score was preceded by an Alex Miller interception. The key play on that drive was a 13-yard hookup across the middle from Pusl to Dove on a third-and-10 situation.
The key in the second half for East Hardy was “winning one-on-one matchups,” said Orndorff. “The halftime adjustments were big," he added. "They allowed us to control the clock and run more efficiently.”
Meadow Bridge faces a big test Friday at Greenbrier West.
East Hardy (2-2) hosts Sherman Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
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East Hardy 21, Meadow Bridge 14
EH (2-2): 0 14 0 7 — 21
MB (2-2): 7 0 7 0 — 14
MB: Rian Cooper 35 pass from Dustin Adkins (Kyle Hinken kick), 7-0, 6:03
EH: Andrew Tharp 60 pass from Cole Pusl (Noah Lang kick), 7-7, 10:55
EH: Brayden Ritchie 4 pass from Christian Dove (Lang kick), 14-7, 0:23
MB: Adkins 5 run (Hinken kick), 14-14, 5:25
EH: Dove 16 run (Lang kick), 21-14, 6:57
RUSHING — EH: Alex Miller 23-55, Cole Pusl 8-48, Christian Dove 11-82-1, Team 2-(-6). MB: Nick White 17-28, Dustin Adkins 9-(-1)-1, Ayden Redden 1-(-1), Seaton Mullins 1-(-9)
PASSING — EH: Pusl 7-13-2-105-1. MB: Dove 2-6-1-10-1, Adkins 9-17-1-66-1.
RECEIVING — EH: Miller 3-12, Dove 2-26, Tharp 2-67-1, Ritchie 1-4-1, Lang 1-6. MB: Tyler Martin 1-5, Hunter Claypool 2-7, James McClure 1-4, Cooper 5-50-1.
TAKEAWAYS — EH: Miller INT. MB: Claypool 2 FR, Ty Roles FR, Cooper INT, McClure INT, Adkins INT.