By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
IN A NUTSHELL: Fumbles hurt the Pirates immensely in the first half — they put the ball on the ground eight times in the first 24 minutes — and two of those bobbles led to both of Hardee’s scores. Port Charlotte went from up six to down seven quickly in the second quarter and it could never find an rhythm offensively from there, ultimately falling to Hardee 16-6 in the preseason classic at home.
DID YOU SEE THAT: Matt Tyson stripped Port Charlotte quarterback Paul Barnes at the Pirates’ 15-yard line midway through the second quarter and the ball rolled into the end zone before Tyler Steedley jumped on it for the touchdown to tie the game at 6-6.
THE GAME WAS OVER WHEN: With the Wildcats clinging to a seven-point lead and the Pirates driving at the Hardee 30-yard line, Randy McLeod sacked Barnes on 4th down and 9 to keep his team in front early in the fourth quarter. Port Charlotte never moved the ball deeper again.
UNSUNG HERO: Kai Washington did it all for Hardee, rushing for 63 yards on 33 carries, throwing for 37 more, scoring his team’s lone offensive touchdown and grabbing the game-clinching interception with 1:19 to play.
THEY SAID IT: “It was atrocious football. I obviously didn’t have our guys ready to go. I apologize to our fans. It was awful. There wasn’t a single good thing that happened. We didn’t play hard, we didn’t play tough, we didn’t execute and that’s my fault. That’s the bottom line. There isn’t a whole lot else to talk about. There wasn’t a single phase we did well tonight.” — Port Charlotte coach Jordan Ingman
HARDEE 16, PORT CHARLOTTE 6
Hardee 0 13 0 3 — 16
Port Charlotte 6 0 0 0 — 6
PC — Jean-Louis 14 run (kick blocked), 6:04
H — Steedley recovers a fumble in the end zone (kick failed), 6:31
H — Washington 4 run (Duarte kick), 3:20
H — Duarte 23 FG, 1:19
First Downs 10 10
Rushes/yds 46-104 36-103
Passing yds 37 103
C-A-I 3-9-1 7-14-1
Fumbles/lost 3-1 9-3
Penalties/yds 5-50 5-50
Rushing: Hardee: Washington 33-63-1, McLeod 8-35, Cimeus 5-6. Port Charlotte: Barnes 12-24, Harvey 5-23, Luther 2-22, Campbell 8-17, Jean-Louis 7-14-1, Cummings 2-3
Passing: Hardee: Washington 3-9-37. Port Charlotte: Barnes 7-14-103.
Receiving: Hardee: Roberson 1-25, McLeod 1-7, Davis 1-5 Port Charlotte: Jean-Louis 5-60, Luther 2-37, Perry 1-6.