RICHWOOD — Marion Harding is in a new league and the Presidents are sporting a new attitude.
They are also sporting a 2-0 record in the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference after a 35-14 victory at North Union Friday night.
“This team believes,” Harding coach John Brady said. “Our coaches have instilled a different attitude in the kids. This win belongs to the assistant coaches. They have busted their butts for our kids and it paid off tonight.”
Brady was thrilled with the way his club battled when it appeared North Union was gaining momentum in the second half.
The Wildcats scored to make it 21-14, but the Presidents answered with two fast touchdowns to secure their first MOAC road victory.
“We could have said ‘here we go again,’ but that is the old Harding way,” Brady said. “This is a new season. We are proud to be part of this conference. It is a great league and we are proud to be 2-0.”
Harding scored on its first two possessions of the evening and both drives covered 78 yards.
On the first march by the Presidents it took four plays to cover the distance with Jordan Scott catching a 9-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Sayre. Savion Tyler added the PAT kick for a 7-0 lead at the 8:22 mark of the first quarter. A 22-yard pass to Justin Lovell and a 38-yard run by TJ Jefferson sparked the move for the Presidents.
Following a North Union punt, Harding moved the 78 yards in seven plays. The score came when Titus Douglas rumbled five yards for the points. The PAT kick was off the mark for a 13-0 lead with 3:29 to go in the opening stanza. Sayre hooked up with Nick Middlesworth for a pair of big pass gains to push the ball down the field.
North Union (2-3, 0-2) responded early in the second period when Richie Curtis picked off a pass and zoomed 10 yards for the score. Luke Krawczyk added the PAT kick to cut the gap to 13-7 just seven seconds into the second.
The Presidents followed up with a quick score as Sayre found TJ Jefferson a 58-yard strike. Sayer’s PAT connection with Jordan Scott put Harding up 21-7 with 8:45 to go in the second round.
North Union was hurt in the first period by a pair of fumbles, one being lost at the Harding 3.
Harding held a 229-157 edge in yardage in the first half. Sayer threw for 157 yards on seven first-half completions.
There were a pair of long drives in the third period. Harding’s resulted in no points, but the Wildcats ended up with a 65-yard drive that lasted 13 plays. Luke Krawczyk carried the final four yards for the NU score. Krawczyk added the kick and it was 21-14 with 42 seconds to go in the third.
The teams traded punts before the Presidents (2-3 overall) took control with a big drive. Harding went 69 yards in 11 plays taking nearly five minutes of the clock. Sayre pushed in from the 1 for the touchdown with 3:38 on the board. Tyler was good with the kick.
Following a North Union fumble, the Presidents put on the final kick with a 48-yard run by Douglas. The PAT made it 35-14 with 3:22 left in the contest.
“We had a great drive after they scored the touchdown,” said Brady. “Give CJ Westler credit. He did a great job of calling the plays tonight. All of the assistants did a great job for us.”
Harding finished the evening with 402 yards of offense. Sayre ended with 186 yards through the air. Douglas led the rushing attack with 138 yards on 16 rushes.
The Wildcats had 227 yards of offense. Krawczyk had 87 yards on the ground on 14 attempts. Wyatt Pertuset added 67 yards on 18 runs. Dawson Smith pulled in two passes for 41 yards.