Harding Academy blows Prescott away with 44 second half points

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Harding Academy's junior quarterback Kade Smith (right) was named MVP after accounting for six TDs in the Wildcat's 47-25 victory over Prescott Saturday. Senior Jacob Breezeel (center) was awarded the Brandon Burlsworth Award, while senior tailback Andrew Miller rushed for 157 yards and caught two touchdown passes.


LITTLE ROCK, Ar. — Harding Academy has won its last Class 3A State Football Championship. The Wildcats won their third straight 3A title Saturday at War Memorial Stadium with a shocking second half performance against top-ranked Prescott.

Trailing 12-3 at halftime, Harding silenced the Curley Wolves’ sideline with 44 second half points en route to a 47-25 victory. However, if Harding is to make it four in a row in 2022, the Wildcats will have to do it in Class 4A.

Three Prescott turnovers in the third quarter turned a two-score advantage into a two-score deficit, 26-12. Junior quarterback Kade Smith, the game’s MVP, scored on a 10-yard run after linebacker Eli Wallis intercepted a Prescott pass at the Wolves’ 23.

Seconds later Prescott quarterback Carston Poole fumbled and the Wildcats’ Cooper Welch recovered at the Wolves’ 41. Harding had to settle for a 36-yard field goal by junior sensation Kyle Ferrie to make it, 19-12.

Harding Academy defense shines

Three plays later Poole was intercepted by cornerback Sikan Akpanudo. On first down Landon Koch hauled in a 58-yard scoring strike from Smith, who finished 9 of 15 for 113 yards and three TDs. He also rushed for 115 yards and three TDs.

“No doubt the turnovers in the third quarter were a turning point,” said Harding coach Neil Evans. “Our defense rose to the occasion, and our offensive line settled in and started playing well. Andrew Miller did what he’s done all season. I’m really proud of all our players.

“Kade (Smith) made plays with his legs and his arm. A lot of times it’s easy to press and force things when you’re trailing in the second half. You also saw today what a weapon a good kicker (Kyle Ferrie) can be. I think he had eight touchbacks that helped us in regards to field position. Ferrie also kicked four PATs and two field goals. He was a couple of yards short on a 59-yard attempt that would have been a state record.”

Ferrie booted a 27-yard field goal on Harding’s first possession of the game. That lead held up until senior Jacaylon Zachery zig-zagged his way 64 yards for a touchdown with 11:47 left in the first half.

Zachery put on show for Prescott fans

Zachery scored three of Prescott’s four touchdowns. He caught a 10-yard scoring pass from Poole with 11:14 left in the game that cut the Wolves’ deficit to 26-18. Zachery scored in the final seconds on another spectacular 60-yard run. John Rabadan added the game’s final point with his PAT kick. Zachery led all runners with 165 yards on 10 carries.

Prescott was playing without senior tailaback Jaylen Hopson, and the Wolves lost defensive back Omarion Dickens, junior linebacker Tidorian Thompson and senior defensive end Caleb Harris while battling Harding. Dickens had logged four unassisted tackles in the first quarter when he got hurt, and Thompson was credited with six tackles before getting injured.

Harris caught four passes for 61 yards, and averaged 45.7 on three punts.

Linebackers Travion Dickens and Jason Patrick led Prescott’s defense with 10 tackles each. Junior linebacker Peyton Cole led the Wildcats’ defense with eight tackles. Harding had 10 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including six quarterback sacks.