MAYFLOWER — Francis to Blickenstaff.
The taste was extremely sour as the Mayflower Eagles had that potent formula shoved down their throats Friday night, turning an expected showdown into indigestion for the local partisans.
Alex Francis, the brother of all-purpose athlete Will Francis, who led the Harding Academy Wildcats to football, basketball and baseball glory last year, proved just as devastating in a torrid effort against the Eagles. He completed 24 of 31 passes for 489 yards and six touchdowns in leading the Wildcats (8-0, 5-0) to a 45-21 victory over Mayflower (5-3, 3-2), virtually elimnating the 5-3A title hopes for the Eagles.
Three of those touchdown passes and 244 of those yards were to wide receiver Kohl Biggerstaff, who found the mismatches in coverage all evening, often on streak patterns down the sideline as the Harding sophomore quarterback hit him nicely in stride.
"Francis has really stepped up and made plays the last three weeks," said Harding coach Randy Mote. "Kohl is a really special guy out there on the perimeter.
The Eagles, eager to atone for a stinging defeat last week at Barton, made a fight of it for most of the first half. They matched Francis’ first TD pass to Biggerstaff (a 46-yarder down the sideline) with a 70-yard TD strike from Adam Dycus to Josh Woodham that tied the score at 7 with 11:00 left in the second quarter.
A defensive struggle between two high-powered offenses turned dramatically in the final 3:02 of the first half. It started after the Wildcats stopped Dycus on a keeper on fourth and 3 at the HA 17. After setting things up with a 42-yard pass to Biggerstaff, Francis found his favorite receiver on a 24-yard TD pass that gave the Wildcats a 14-7 lead with 3:02 left in the first half.
The Wildcat defense came up with a three-and-out and used the resulting short field to drive against the clock to a 15-yard TD pass from Francis to Jake Mackey with 11 seconds left in the half.
That score was significant since the Wildcats had the first possession of the second half and, after the kickoff, started that drive at midfield. The Wildcats took three plays, capped by a 334-yard touchdown pass from Francis to Carter Burks, to take a 28-7 lead.
The Eagles quickly responded as Dycus completed a 69-yard drive with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Justin Bailey with 9:23 left in the third quarter.
Francis quickly mitigated that momentum with a 56-yard touchdown pass to Biggerstaff. Then the Wildcats pounced on three straight Mayflower turnovers and used a 36-yard scoring pass from Francis to Burks to put the Eagles down for the count. The Eagles scored one final time late on a pass from Dycus to Woodham.
Dycus completed 30 of 45 passes for 430 yards and three touchdowns. Woodham caught seven of those passes for 170 yards.
At Springdale, Greenbrier backup quarterback Harold Ross, subbing for starter Will Drewry (who has a knee injury) completed 22 of 34 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-25 loss to Shiloh Christian that put the Panthers 2-3 in 5A-West play.
The Saints (5-2-1, 4-1) limited the Panthers to 97 yards rushing and intercepted three passes. They rushed for 345 yards.