The host Hartley High School football team left its opener Aug. 25 against perennial Division III power Toledo Central Catholic with more of an understanding of the work that lies ahead.
Coming off back-to-back Division IV state titles but now in the same division as the Fighting Irish, the Hawks ran out of defensive answers during the second half en route to a 35-16 loss.
Hartley, which lost to Central Catholic 31-28 in its opener a year ago, left believing most of its miscues were correctable.
“It’s good to see where you’re at,” Hawks senior running back and linebacker Nick Cone said. “You want to know what you have on your team. It’s a long season.”
Central Catholic, which was a state semifinalist a year ago, outscored Hartley 21-2 during the second half once a running game featuring senior Devon Rivers settled in.
Rivers rushed for 133 yards on 23 carries, including a pair of 1-yard touchdowns.
His first score came with 7 minutes, 3 seconds remaining and gave the Irish a 28-14 lead.
On the third play of that drive, Central Catholic quarterback Troy Durden ran for 27 yards and Hartley was called for a personal foul to move it to the 1.
The Hawks also were called for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during the second half.
“That team we played was really, really good,” Hartley coach Brad Burchfield said. “They were able to get out on the perimeter in the second half and we have to convert on a lot more plays. But we’re not far away.”
Hartley took a 7-0 lead with 9:11 left in the opening quarter when the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Cone rumbled for an 86-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Anthony Carfagna. That came one play after Phillip Cole’s 80-yard touchdown run was called back because of an illegal block.
“It was a good feeling running down the sidelines and having blockers behind me,” Cone said.
Durden hit Sean Blue for a 33-yard touchdown with 5:32 to go in the opening quarter to tie the game at 7.
Then with 10:25 left in the first half, Hartley quarterback Miles Fleming hit Cole for a 36-yard touchdown on fourth-and-7.
The game was tied at 14 at halftime after Jaron Swain scored on a 21-yard pass from Durden with 6:47 left in the first half.
Central Catholic took a 20-14 lead on its first possession of the second half as Dallas Fields ran in from 9 yards with 7:12 to go in the third quarter. The Fighting Irish never trailed again.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final TOLEDO CENTRAL CATH.
7 7 6 15 35 HARTLEY
7 7 0 2 16
H—Cone 86 pass from Carfagna (Agriesti kick)
TCC—Blue 33 pass from Durden (Landrum kick)
H—Cole 36 pass from Fleming (Agriesti kick)
TCC—Swain 21 pass from Durden (Landrum kick)
TCC—Fields 9 run (kick failed)
TCC—Rivers 1 run (Rivers run)
TCC—Rivers 1 run (Landrum kick)
H—Safety, Norris tackled in end zone