A tough Hardee defense stifled the explosive Frostproof offense during the first half Friday night at Wildcat Stadium in Wauchula.
The Bulldogs came alive in the third quarter to make it a close game. With seven minutes left Hardee was leading 14-12.
Neither offense could get anything going on their first possession. Hardee also went three and out on its second possession.
A 10-yard punt by the Wildcats gave the Bulldogs great field position at the Hardee 35.
After a short drive Lamar Bobb booted a 37-yard field goal with 4:55 left in the first period to put the Bulldogs on top 3-0.
The Wildcats got things going on their next possession. They drove 70 yards to take the lead on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Kris Johnson to Tristen Lanier.
Rodrigo Rodriguez kicked the extra point to put the Wildcats in front 7-3 with 1:39 remaining in the quarter.
Hardee caught the Bulldogs off guard on the ensuing kickoff. The Wildcats used a pooch kick that no one from Frostproof fell on.
Hardee had good field position after recovering the ball on the Bulldog 40. They moved inside the Frostproof 20, but the Bulldogs came up with a big play to stop the threat.
Harrison Johnson picked off Johnson’s pass for the Bulldogs.
Penalties hurt the Bulldogs once again. They had major penalties back to back in the second quarter and at one point had a first down and 40 yards to go.
Amazingly, they managed to pick up the first down and got down to the Hardee 26. On fourth and five a Gaines’ pass fell incomplete.
The score remained 7-3 at halftime.
It was the first time Frostproof, which racked up more than 100 yards in penalties in the opening half, had trailed after two quarters this season.
The Bulldogs took the second-half kick and got to the Hardee 40 before turning the ball over on downs..
Hardee took over and used only two plays to march 60 yards. A 59-yard pass from Johnson to Lanier set up the Wildcats at the one. Keyonte Holley ran in from the one.
The PAT by Rodriguez pushed Hardee’s lead to 14-3 at the 9:20 mark of the third quarter.
Frostproof started its next possession at midfield. An interception by Sahmaud Blandin at the Hardee 2 gave the Wildcats the ball.
The Bulldogs defense came up with another big play when Johns on was tackled in the end zone for a safety. The visitors cut the lead to 14-5 with 5:46 remaining in the third period.
Frostproof drove 48 yards following Hardee’s free kick after safety to score its first touchdown of the game. Cecil Cherry carried it from two yards out.
Lamar Bobb’s extra-point kick closed the gap to 14-12 with 7 minutes left int he game.