Fort Meade Miners began their regular season traveling to arch-rival Hardee County and dropped the first game of the year 21-6.
Following the kickoff by Jack Cortez the host proved to be hospitable turning the ball over on a fumble in Hardee territory.
Miners proceeded to move on a 12-play drive only to turn the ball over on downs at the Wildcat 26. On the first play from scrimmage the Hardee running back shook off at least four Miners tackles and broke into the secondary for a 74-yard touchdown run.
The Cat kick was good and the Miners trailed 7-0 with 6:13 left in the first quarter.
On the next possession, the Miners suffered an interception which was returned the Miners one-yard line. Fortunately for Fort Meade a Hardee penalty nullified the return.
With new life, the Miners quickly advanced to the Hardee 25-yard line on a Jay Smith to Tobias Culpepper for a 60-yard pass completion that would stall at the Hardee 14.
In came Cortez who cleared the uprights with with a 31 yard field goal, leaving the Miners trailing 7-3 with 2:41 left in the first quarter.
The two squads would alternate possessions and Hardee would drive the Miners 14 where on a Cat completion the receiver fumbled into the Miners end zone where Fort Meade recovered for a touchback.
On the first play of the series Smith threw deep only to see his pass intercepted and returned 35 yards for another Wildcat score. The PAT kick was good again and the Miners trailed 14-3 with 6:35 left in the second quarter.
A boatload of penalties would mar the remainder of the first half as both teams struggled to move the ball.
With seconds left in the first half, Miners quarterback Jay Smith went to the sideline with an apparent hand injury and did not return in the half.
It was more of the same for the Miners in the second half as they struggled to produce offense.
On their first series after the kickoff, Smith was intercepted at the Miners 18-yard line. Two plays later Hardee scored on a 15-yard run. Following the kick, the Miners trailed 21-3 with 9:31 left in the third quarter.
The Miners would come back with a 10-play drive only to have to punt it away.
Hardee would go nowhere and give it back to the Miners which would gain possession at their own 20-yard line.
The Miners would then rip off a 16-play drive aided by two Wildcat personal foul penalties.
The drive would stall at the Hardee 30-yard line but a high snap on a Crotez 48-yard field goal attempt would force the holder Chris Morris to tuck it under and run for his life. Gaining just two yards, the Miners turned it back over to the Cats.
A Hardee fumble gave the Miners the ball at Hardee 37. The Miners would manage to gain 20 yards but would have to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Cortez.
Hardee would then take possession and run the clock out in the fourth quarter giving the Wildcats their first victory over the Miners in four years.
In the game the Miners were held to scoring no touchdowns and gains 61 yards running the ball and 151 passing. Hardee ran for 217 yards and passed for 128 yards.
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