The Hough Huskies, ranked No. 1 in the Observer’s Sweet 16, took early control in a highly-anticipated season-opening matchup with Harding and rolled to an unexpectedly easy 56-6 victory over the visiting Rams on Friday night.
Senior quarterback Kennique Bonner-Steward passed for 222 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for a 32-yard score to pace the Huskies, state semifinalists in Class 4AA during an 11-4 season in 2017.
They held a commanding 35-6 lead by halftime over Harding, which won its first state championship since 1953 last season, taking the Class 4A title.
Records: Harding 0-1, Hough 1-0
Three who mattered
Kennique Bonner-Steward (Hough): The senior quarterback completed passes to six different receivers, including two for touchdowns of 4 and 13 yards to wide receiver Luke Osteen.
Hough defense: LInebacker Storm Monroe stopped Harding’s opening possession with a fumble recovery and defensive lineman Curtis Neal set up the Huskies’ first touchdown with another.
Quavaris Crouch (Harding): The senior running back had 14 carries for 95 yards while sitting out most of the fourth quarter. He recorded Harding’s only score on a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
▪ Harding’s early troubles — a fumble by Crouch and a high snap over the quarterback’s head — didn’t have as much impact on the scoreboard as they could have. Hough got a missed field goal and a 1-yard TD run by Kwesi Kyel-Fordjour out of the two possessions inside the 10. But the mistakes kept the Rams from getting into any kind of rhythm until the second quarter.
▪ Hough senior backup quarterback Elijah Johnson had an impactful first appearance of the season. He replaced Bonner-Steward to start the fourth quarter and led a two-play touchdown drive on his first possession — a 46-yard run followed by a 31-yard TD pass to Jackson Conrad for the Huskies’ last score.
▪ The fourth quarter was played with a running clock.
Hough will host Providence on Friday. Harding will host Garinger. Both games kick off at 7.