Third time’s the charm for Sacred Heart 8-man football.
After losing its first two matchups of the season, the Gremlins forged a 50-point lead at halftime to guard its first victory, 58-30, through a running-clock second half from Zac Smith and Norborne-Hardin at Tiger Stadium in Sedalia, Friday, Sept. 9.
Sacred Heart lost by two points in week one, by 18 in week two and had no scheduled game Sept. 2. Head coach Ben Lyles said the Gremlins were locked-in after a week off.
“We played decent the first couple weeks,” Ben said. “But there were too many turnovers, too many missed blocks up front, too many missed assignments … We were a lot more focused (Friday).”
The Gremlins led Norborne-Hardin Central 58-8 at halftime, and coaches agreed to play the second half with a running clock.
Junior quarterback Trent Lyles scored the first touchdown on an 11-yard quarterback keep, but Sacred Heart failed its 2-point conversion. Trent had three rushing and passing touchdowns apiece.
Norborne-Hardin answered on the next play from scrimmage. After Zac Smith slipped tackles near the sideline, he scored from 65 yards out and gave the Aggies an 8-6 lead.
The Gremlins scored the next 38 points.
RaeQuan Williams emerged from a scrum and delivered a 46-yard touchdown with 6:13 to play in the first quarter. Trent Lyles spun off a hit and scored two drives later. Both conversions were good, and Sacred Heart led 22-8.
Sacred Heart increased its lead after Trent connected with Micah Tanguay for a 26-yard score. A quarterback keep secured the 2-point conversion, and the Gremlins led 30-8 after one quarter.
The Aggies opened the second quarter with a fourth-and-long punt. Williams dashed 59 yards on the first play from scrimmage for a touchdown. Lyles found Easton Webb for the 2-point conversion.
Webb took snaps at quarterback in the second half, draining the clock with consecutive rushing attempts. Ben Lyles said the deep part of his 17-man roster got playing plenty of snaps during the victory.
“We were actually able to get, all the way down to our freshman, in the game tonight – which is kind of exciting,” Ben said. “So now we have some film on them, and we’ll be able to go back and critique it a bit. As a young kid, that’s exciting.”
Another Trent Lyles rushing touchdown lifted Sacred Heart to a 44-8 lead. The Gremlins snapped a streak of four successful 2-point conversions after its sixth score.
Nick Cashman delivered a block downfield for Alden Harding en route to a 37-yard touchdown reception. The Gremlins would not convert after its score, and led 50-8 with 4:02 to play in the first half.
The Gremlins face last year’s 8-man Missouri state runner-up, North Andrew, in Rosendale, Missouri next week. Ben said a similar performance is required to knock off the undefeated (3-0) Cardinals.
“We’re going to see a really, really good team next week,” Ben said. “That’s not going to be an easy game … We have to play at this intensity from the start and just keep getting a little bit better as things go on.”
Williams, who ran for three touchdowns, positioned Sacred Heart at the Norborne-Hardin 15-yard line after a 28-yard gain. Lyles hit Tanguay high in the end zone on the next play. A penalty negated the Gremlin’s initial 2-point conversion, but Lyles scrambled for another after the 10-yard setback.
Norborne-Hardin scored on its first series of the second half, concluded by Smith’s second rushing touchdown for 39 yards.
The Aggies would not convert the 2-point attempt, and elected to let the clock continuously run after breaking the mercy-rule threshold. With 7:40 to play, Smith broke off a third touchdown, this time from 40 yards away. Norborne-Hardin converted, and trailed 58-22 as the fourth quarter ticked away.
Sam Hawkins recovered a Sacred Heart fumble to set up Smith’s fourth touchdown in the game’s closing minutes. Smith scored from 39 yards out for his fourth touchdown, and Hunter Higgins ran in the 2-point conversion to end the contest.
Sacred Heart (1-2) face North Andrew at 7 p.m, Friday, Sept. 9 in Rosendale, Missouri.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2