On a beautiful evening at Bearcat Stadium, Coach Craig Bentley and the Mena Bearcats hosted the Harding Academy Wildcats.
Harding entered the game having not lost since November 16, 2018.
To kick-off the game, the Bearcats received and turned the ball over with a fumble on their first possession.
The Wildcats then went on to score the first points of the game with a field goal, to take a 3-0 lead in the first quarter.
Following punts from both squads on their next possessions, Mena senior quarterback Max Montgomery connected with senior Gaven Hooper on a 56-yard touchdown pass with 3:04 left in the opening quarter, giving the Bearcats the 7-3 advantage.
Just over a minute later, Harding answered with a 10-yard touchdown pass to retake the lead 10-7 with 1:59 remaining in the first.
Both Mena and Harding were forced to punt on their fourth possessions of the contest. However, the Bearcats were the first team on the scoreboard in the second quarter, as Montgomery hit senior tight end Mason Brotherton from 29 yards out for a touchdown and the 13-10 lead.
After a turnover by Harding and a punt by the Bearcats, the Wildcats scored again on a 60-yard run by quarterback Caden Sipe. With 4:55 left in the first half, Harding led the game 17-13.
The Bearcats then received the kickoff and were forced to punt on their 7th possession of the half. With 8 seconds left in the second quarter, Harding scored another touchdown to extend their lead to 24-13 going into halftime.
In the second half, both teams punted on their first possessions, before the Wildcats made a 36-yard field goal and the Bearcats scored on a 9-yard pass from Montgomery to Brotherton once again, making the score 27-20 in favor of the Wildcats.
Harding went on to control the remainder of the fourth and final quarter of play, outscoring the Bearcats 17-0, to take the contest by a final score of 44-20.
Max Montgomery led Mena with 202 passing yards and 3 touchdowns on the night. For Harding, Caden Sipe led the Wildcats from the quarterback position with 276 yards and 2 passing touchdowns.
In rushing yards, Evan Graves led Mena with 38 yards, as senior Jake Wiles contributed 34 yards on the ground. Quarterback Sipe led the Wildcats with 104 rushing yards, as Sipe and senior Ty Dugger both tallied a rushing touchdown.
Gaven Hooper led the Bearcats in receiving yards with 59 and one touchdown, as senior Sam Efird and Mason Brotherton caught touchdown passes. Dugger led Harding with 148 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.
This Friday, Mena will host the Hot Springs Trojans for Homecoming. The Trojans enter Friday’s matchup with an 0-1 record, following a 44-14 loss at Arkadelphia High School.
Last season, the Bearcats defeated Hot Springs in a low-scoring contest 10-6.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00pm on Friday at Bearcat Stadium.