MAYFLOWER — Mayflower saw its screen go blank quickly in its television debut Thursday night because of missed connections.
The Eagles turned the ball over on their first three possessions and yielded a 97-yard touchdown drive in the final three minutes of the first half in a 42-6 loss to Harding Academy at Patrick Stadium.
The victory over the defending 2-3A champs put the Wildcats (4-0, 7-0) clearly in the driver’s seat of the conference race. Mayflower, which stunned Harding Academy at Searcy last year, fell to 3-1 in conference and 3-4 overall.
The Eagles buried themselves early in the special television game by Fearless Friday and KARZ.
On the first play from scrimmage, the Wildcats’ James Dillard intercepted Jordan Dycus and returned it to the MHS 14. It took three plays for Ben Lecrone to score from the 1 and a two-point conversion run by Seth Keese put Harding Academy up 8-0 less than a minute and a half into the game.
On the Eagles’ next possession, Keese timed a sideline pass attempt from Dycus perfectly and had a clear field in an easy 58-yard touchdown that quickly put the Wildcats up 14-0.
"I was just at the right place at the right time," Keese said. "I was running hard hopeing no one could catch me."
The Eagles lost a fumble on their third possession, setting the Wildcats up at their 45. A six-play drive, highlighted by a 22-yard scamper by Lecrone, culminated with an 8-yard option run by Keese that put the Wildcats up 21-0 with 3:24 left in the first quarter.
"I thought the key to the game would be turnovers," said Harding Academy coach Roddy Mote. "It was not just getting turnovers but capitalizing on them."
The Eagles, led by the running to Demetris Lasker and completions of 31 and 14 yards by Dycus to Lane Mabry and Chris Hale drove to the Harding 5, then self-destructed again. A false start and a sack put the Eagles back to the 24, where there were two incompletions.
The clincher came late in the first half after a 52-yard punt by Dycus seemed to pin the Wildcats on their 3.
Keese took care of getting the ball ner the 20 then completed a 13-yard pass to Tyler Gentry, a 46-yard deep ball to Dillard that put the Wildcats on the Mayflower 24 with 15 seconds left.
After a timeout, Keese kept on the option, made a sharp cut to the middle and was untouched to the end zone that gave the Wildcats a 48-0 halftime lead.
The Wildcats took the second-half kickoff at the Mayflower 46 after an onside kick attempt hit an Eagle player before traveling 10 yards.
They scored in six plays. Keese passed 20 yards to Jon Ford over the middle and Josh Spears extra point invoked the mercy rule with 10:11 left in the third quarter.
Lasker, who was not at full speed because of a groin injury, scored the Eagles’ only touchdown. He had 89 yards on 16 carries.
The Eagles rushed for 306 yards. Dycus completed 16-of-22 passes for 213 yards.
Keese accounted for four of the Wildcats’ six touchdowns. He was 14 of 18 for 167 yards and a touchdown. He rushbed for 58 yards and touchdowns and had the interception return.
The Eagles will try to regroup at Barton next Friday.