Harding rebounds from loss, hammers East
WARREN — The Warren G. Harding Raiders proved that they weren’t feeling sorry for themselves after last week’s disappointing loss to Cardinal Mooney.
The Raiders came out and dominated the East Panthers on Friday night as Harding honored the old Warren Western Reserve High School and its alumni in a 49-0 victory.
“We had an energetic week of practice,” Raider coach Steve Arnold said. “Kids responded well all week, bouncing back from the loss (to Mooney). Not only tonight, but during the course of the week with practice. I think we got re-focused after last week, (I’m) very proud of them.”
The Raiders came out of the gate fired up and responded with 42 points in the first quarter. Harding went seven plays and 63 yards for their first score, as Lynn Bowden found Jalen Hooks on a 6-yard touchdown strike, quickly putting the Raiders ahead, 7-0.
Bowden then took a snap, cut to the right and raced up the far sideline for a 12-yard score on Harding’s second drive. Between the 2:50 and 1:24 mark of the first quarter, Harding scored 29 points in four different ways.
Kayron Adams rushed for a 3-yard score, which was followed by a Bowden to Marlin Richardson 20-yard touchdown pass, in which Bowden looked around and eventually found Richardson all by himself in the back of the end zone. Bowden finished 5-for-6 with 60 yards and two scores, plus, he rushed for 109 yards on just six attempts and another score.
However, as strong as Bowden was, the real star of the night was Richardson. Richardson quickly scored two more times during that 29-point sequence, first a 30-yard punt return that he fielded on the run, and then a 50-yard interception return for a score — extending the Raider lead to 42-0.
“Marlin’s really talented,” Arnold said. “Marlin plays safety for us, (and he) returns kicks. Offensively, (he) does a lot of things well for us. He had a big night tonight.”
Richardson finished with two interceptions and two receptions for 26 yards, to go along with his three scores.
Finally, Harding’s seventh touchdown came in a shortened second quarter (eight minutes), as Adams broke three tackles to score from 33 yards out.
“I thought they (East) played real well,” said East coach Jerron Jenkins about Harding. “We moved the ball, (but) after they (Harding) scored the third touchdown, they (East) put their heads down a little bit. I’m proud of them, they fought hard and kept playing until the end, they don’t quit. It is what it is.”
After the game, Bowden embraced Jenkins, who is Bowden’s Godfather. When both were asked if they trash talked each other during the week, they both smiled and said, “Yeah.”
East dropped to 1-8.
Even with the win, Harding (8-1) fell another spot in their region, as they now find themselves in third in Division II, Region 5. Next week, however, will prove to be a tough task for the Raiders, as they’ll host Howland, who extended their winning streak to seven games, following a 21-0 rout of Canfield.
The Tigers are now fourth in Division III, Region 9, but have not clinched a playoff spot. For Arnold, he knows his Raiders will have their hands full next week.
“You know, we haven’t even had a chance to assess Howland yet,” Arnold said.
“Up to this point, I think they (Howland) won (seven) in a row. We’ll prepare for Howland like we do any other opponent and (we’ll) be ready to play next Friday night in our last regular-season game.”