Despite nearly 400 yards passing by senior quarterback Caden Sipe and more than 200 yards receiving by senior wide receiver Ty Dugger, the Harding Academy Wildcats tasted defense for the first time this season, facing powerhouse Briarcrest Christian in Memphis on Friday.

The Wildcats (3-1) fell to the Saints (4-2) 63-28, but Harding Academy Neil Evans saw a lot of promise in the loss.

“We played well in spots,” Evans said. “Tremendous opponent we faced. I’m very pleased with our effort. Playing a great opponent like Briarcrest exposes many areas that need to be worked on. I’m glad we were able to play someone of their caliber and tradition. It was a great learning experience for our players.”

The Wildcats were able to keep the game close in the first quarter matching the Saints' 14 points. Then, Briarcrest started to become too much in the second quarter scoring 28 points while the Wildcats added another 14.

The second half was all Saints. Harding Academy did not score in the half while the Saints ran away with the game in the third and fourth quarters.

Sipe completed 31 of 43 passes for 393 yards and 3 touchdowns for Harding Academy. Dugger made 17 catches for 228 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.

On the ground, running back Andrew Miller ran for 78 yards on 15 carries. He had one rushing and one receiving touchdown in the game.

The Wildcats will go back on the road next Friday as they play the 4-1 Mountain View Yellowjackets.

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