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Harding holds on for 35-26 win despite allowing 409 total yards

Correspondent photo / Michael G. Taylor Harding’s Delamr McMillan (8) escapes the grasp of Chaney’s Marcello Loggins (23) for a 7-yard gain Friday night at Rayen Stadium. Harding held off the Cowboys 35-26 despite allowing Chaney to rack up 409 yards of total offense.

YOUNGSTOWN –When all was said and done Friday night at Rayen Stadium, the stats tell a different story than what actually transpired on the field.

The Chaney Cowboys racked up 409 yards of total offense with 24 first downs while holding the Warren G. Harding Raiders to 162 yards on offense and just six first downs.

Though, the old adage is, at the end of the day, what matters is the score at the end of the game and that score showed a 35-26 Harding victory.

“It happens,” Chaney coach Chris Amill said. “It’s football. Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way. I’m proud of the way my boys fought through the whole game. They made plays. Harding’s an explosive team. We knew it coming into the game.

Even in some of the close games that they didn’t win, they had those plays and they were just missing them. They connected early and when they got rolling and it was rolling. It was hard to get them stopped but thank God for halftime.”

What a first half it was for Harding (5-4) with scoring plays of 87, 25, 60, 48, and 89 yards.

About the only thing that didn’t go right for the Warren G. Harding Raiders in the first half was their opening two plays, a five yard false start and a 12 yard loss from Konyae Redd.

“The ball kind of bounced our way,” Harding coach Steve Arnold said. “I think we got a little lax. We didn’t come out with the fire and fury in the second half. So that was disappointing.

There were some things we didn’t do, but I give Chaney a lot of credit. Luckily, we got out to that big lead. That lead gave us a little bit of leeway.”

Still, the Cowboys (3-5) moved the ball throughout the first half, but saw drives stall at the Harding 13 with a fumble and a turnover on downs at the Harding 38.

On their second possession, with Chaney driving midway through the opening quarter, Matt Jones’ fumble at the Harding 13 was scooped up by Kincaid Tyson who ran it 87 yards to give the Raiders a 7-0 lead at the 5:18 mark.

After a pooch kick on the kickoff, the Raiders scored eight seconds later on Ryan Powell’s 25 yard run.

The Cowboys again moved the ball into Harding territory but saw the drive end on a turnover on downs at the 38.

Harding struck again five plays later when Dalys Jett found Johnnie Taylor on a slant that he took 60 yards to the house to increase the Harding lead to 21-0.

The Raiders decided to onside kick the ball again and it paid off as they took over at the Chaney 48.

On the very next play, Jett found Dom Foster behind the Cowboy secondary for a 48 yard touchdown pass to make it 28-0 just 10 seconds into the second quarter.

Chaney finally broke through on their next drive, moving 64 yards with Matt Jones’ 14 yard run making it 28-6 with 7:58 left in the opening half.

Harding responded again on another big special teams play with Foster returning the kickoff 89 yards to make it now 35-6 just 14 seconds later.

“Us getting the early lead (was the difference),” Arnold said. “We got a big lead and they just kept fighting.”

Chaney got a last minute score with Jones finding Jermaine Martin on a 15 yard pass to make it 35-12 at the half.

The Raiders punted on their opening possession of the first half and never crossed midfield after that opening possession netting just 12 yards of offense in the second half

“We talk about composure all the time,” Arnold said. “We also talk about putting our players in conflict in practice, and how you respond to it. I don’t think we responded well in the second half.”

Chaney moved the ball up and down the field throughout the second half but again saw a couple of drives end on interceptions from Hardings’ Saas Dukes in the end zone bookended by a Jones’ two yard run and a safety.

“Our defensive coaches made a few adjustments,” Amill said. “Offensively we did move the ball in the first half so it wasn’t a whole lot of adjustments that needed to be made. We just need to take care of the ball, cut out the mistakes, and the penalties. Our guys are going to compete. They’re not going to quit. They believe in what we have, what we’re doing, and believe in each other.”

Jones led the Cowboys with 184 yards rushing and 118 passing with two touchdown passes and a touchdown run.

“Matt played big,” Amill added. “He had some mistakes, a couple interceptions down in the red zone. We’re able to get the ball back and do some things. He’s a competitor. He’s gonna play hard. He’s gonna fight. He’s gonna get stuff done. He’s a freshman, so you’re going to take the good with the bad. A lot more good than bad and we’re just going to keep growing and learn from it.”

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