Gardner wears down Wildcats
Mistakes haunt De Soto in loss
It wasn't a pretty start for De Soto's football team Friday night.
A formidable Gardner squad spoiled the home opener, spreading out the scoring and winning by a final score of 39-0.
De Soto managed to hang around in the first quarter, and it took a trick play on an end-around pass from Gardner receiver Isaac Mallory to fellow wide receiver Justice Berry to get the visitors on the board after one fruitless possession.
"We had really shut them down early," coach Brad Scott said.
Then, an injury to starting quarterback Logan Clark with about 10 minutes to play in the second quarter - an undisclosed injury to his left, non-throwing shoulder - landed not only the quarterback but also the starting outside linebacker on the bench without pads on.
"When your offense isn't doing anything because your starting quarterback is on the sideline, your defense just has to stay out there and eventually they are going to wear you down," Scott said. "I think that was a big part of what happened.
"When we were fresh and we had everybody in there, I thought we matched up with them well."
"That hurt us a lot because he's a real threat on defense," added junior running back and defensive back Dylan Burford. "Quarterback-wise he didn't have much experience, but he came in threw the ball well a couple of times and led our offense."
For the Wildcats, Burford led all De Soto rushers with 52 yards on 18 carries. Josh Fisher followed with 26 yards on five attempts.
Before he was forced out of the game, Clark was 2 for 3 for 50 yards, which included a 48-yard bomb to Jamel Townsend in the first quarter that got the ball down to the Gardner 35-yard line.
That drive stalled one first down later, however, when the Wildcats went for it on fourth and 16 from the Gardner 31-yard line. Clark's pass intended for Townsend fell incomplete and De Soto's scoring threat came to an end.
Before that, De Soto got off to a seemingly improbable start against Gardner, forcing the Blazers to punt after one first down in the opening series, which began at Gardner's own 29-yard line.
De Soto opened up its first offensive series with a third-down conversion when Mark England took a handoff and scampered seven yards on third and six. Josh Fisher gained another first down three plays later when he took a handoff between the guards and finished with a five-yard run.
On the ensuing snap, De Soto fumbled the ball away on the exchange between Clark and Burford, and Gardner took over at the De Soto 46.
On first down, the Blazers handed the ball off to Mallory and the Wildcat corners bit on the run. That left Berry standing all alone. Berry needed all the time, as Mallory's throw was significantly underthrown and Berry made it to the end zone just in time with Mark England giving chase.
Gardner added 12 points in the second quarter, three in the third and 13 in the final stanza to round out the scoring.
Gardner rushed the ball 40 times for 222 yards, compared to De Soto's 39 rushes for 90 yards.
"As a runner, you've got your jukes, which didn't help. You just have to make one cut and live with it against these guys," Burford said. "Holes are open for a couple seconds, you've just got to run through them as fast as you can and lower your shoulder. I think our offensive line did really well."
De Soto will have a chance to atone for the opening week loss against Eudora. The age starts at 7 p.m. Friday on the road.
"We've just got to take from it what we can to get better and just stay together," Scott said. "We're going to be fine. We're going to show up to Eudora and get better."