Leopards get win in wild finish

Malvern’s Daylan Ross makes a Harmony Grove Cardinal miss the tackle during a punt return in the Leopards game with the Cardinals on Friday, October 4, 2019.
By: 
Alexis Meeks
Sports Editor

It was a two minutes to remember as the Malvern Leopards escaped with the win over the Haskell Harmony Grove Cardinals on Homecoming at Claude Mann Stadium-David Alpe Field, Friday, October 4, 2019.
The Leopards held the lead 29-16 with 2:19 left in the game to give the Cardinals the ball. The Cardinals were able to set up a 67 yard drive to score. The Cardinals then converted for two more points to trail 29-24 with 34.7 seconds. On the ensuing kickoff, the Cardinals went of an onside kick and recovered the ball at the 44 yard line of the Leopards. The Cardinals first pass was good for nine yards to set up a second and one. Their next pass went incomplete, but Malvern was flagged for holding which moved the ball to the Malvern 25 yard line. On the Cardinals next pass, the ball was intercepted but Malvern was flagged again for holding to put the Cardinals at the Malvern 15 with 7.1 seconds left in the game. The Cardinals first pass went incomplete to bring up second down with .07 second left in the game. With one play left, the Cardinals pass went incomplete to give the Leopards the win 29-24.
“This is what it’s all about on homecoming,” Head Coach J.D. Plumlee said. “Give Benton Harmony Grove credit. What a great game of high school football.”
The game started off with Harmony Grove receiving the first half kickoff. The Cardinals fumbled on the kickoff which was recovered by Malvern’s Kieth Caradine. Despite decent field position, the Leopards were held to four plays and turned the ball over on downs. The Cardinals started their next drive from their own 36 yard line. The Cardinals were able to rush the ball to set up a 64 yard drive to score and take an early lead. The Cardinals converted a two-point conversion to lead 8-0 with 7:58 in the first.
The Leopards second drive of the game ended in a punt, but the Malvern defense held the Cardinals to a three and out and a punt. Malvern’s Daylan Ross returned the punt for a touchdown. The point after touchdown (PAT) was good as Malvern trailed 8-7 with 3:02 left in the first.
The Leopards second scored came after a Cardinal fumble that was recovered by Tre’sean Morman. The Leopards got the ball at the Harmony Grove 36 yard line. Malvern’s Cedric Simmons and Jacobe Hart were able to rush the ball to start the drive. Simmons was then sacked on third down to bring up a fourth and seven for the Leopards. Simmons was then able to find Dallas Lewis in the end zone for a 33 yard touchdown. The Leopards PAT was good and Malvern took the lead 14-8 with a 1:33 left in the first. Time expired in the first with Harmony Grove in control of the ball.
In the second quarter, both teams went scoreless as each team turned the ball over on downs and punted. The Leopards remained in the lead 14-8 to go into halftime.
Malvern was back to receive the second half kickoff, but failed to recover the onside kick. The Cardinals set up at the 50 yard line but were held to a three and out and punted the ball away. Malvern’s next drive ended with a turn over on downs. The Cardinals would have possession of the ball as time expired in the third with the Leopards leading 14-8.
The Cardinals started the fourth quarter with the ball at the Malvern 17 yard line. Five plays later, the Cardinals were able to score on a two yard run. Their two-point conversion was good and the Cardinals retook the lead 16-14 with 9:25 left.
The Leopards would answer with a touchdown of their own at the 7:19 mark. The Leopards started at their own 46 yard line. Simmons was able to complete passes to Malaki Asher and Lewis to move the ball down field. Simmons hit Lewis on a 39 yard pass down to the Harmony Grove two yard line. Two plays later Simmons busted his way into the end zone to score. The Leopards the went for the two-point conversion, which they got after Simmons handed off the ball to Christian Warren who then passed to Asher in the end zone. The Leopards retook the lead 22-16.
The Leopards scored again at the 2:19 mark after recovering a Cardinal fumble. The fumble was recovered by the Leopards at the Harmony Grove 35 yard line. The Leopards converted a fourth down to set the Leopards up at the Harmony Grove 20 yard line. Harmony Grove was then flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after the next play to move the Leopards to the Harmony Grove 10 yard line. Hart was able to rush the ball to the five yard line before Simmons scored again on five yards out. The Leopards PAT was good as they took a 29-16 lead.
The Cardinals next drive ended with a 26 yard touchdown and a converted two-point conversion with 34.7 seconds left in the game. The Cardinals then recovered the onside kick. Flags on the Leopards helped the Cardinals move the ball to the Malvern 15 yard line with 7.1 seconds left. The Cardinals failed to reach the end zone as time expired and the Leopards got the victory.
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With the win, the Leopards move to 2-3 on the season and 1-1 in 7-4A Conference play. The Leopards will go back out on the road to face Ashdown on Friday, October 11. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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