SEARCY — Harding Academy has been running a wide-open Spread offense for much longer than Charleston’s two years in the system. But the Tigers ran it better Friday.
Top-ranked Charleston passed for 599 yards and seven touchdowns in a 48-21 win against No. 2 Harding Academy in the quarterfinals of the 3A State Playoffs.
With the win, Charleston (13-0) dethroned the defending 3A state champion and snapped a 25-game winning streak by Harding (11-1). Charleston will host Earle next Friday in the semifinals.
Harding Academy passed for 396 yards and pulled as close as 34-21 with 8:54 left in the game. But Charleston quarterback Ty Storey, who threw all seven TD passes and had 533 passing yards, threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Taylor King with 7:33 left.
He added a 31-yard touchdown pass to Chance Shelby with 3:53 left to finally salt the game away.
"We knew coming in that Harding had a very potent offense and we were going to have to keep our foot on their throat," Charleston coach Greg Kendrick said. "No lead was safe. Normally when we are up like that in the second half we are running the ball and trying to run some clock. We couldn’t afford to do that tonight."
Storey, a junior who has orally committed to the University of Arkansas, put on a show. He finished 21-of-38 with one interception and seven TDs. Shelby also completed a pass of 58 yards to Hayden Newhart on a trick play to set up one of the final touchdowns as Charleston pulled out all the stops.
"The coaches had a good game plan and we just came out and executed it," Storey said. "My receivers made some good plays."
Shelby caught three touchdown passes and finished with 191 yards on eight catches. Taylor King caught two touchdown passes and had eight catches for 193 yards and Colton Ward had three catches for 135 yard on three catches. Storey’s touchdown passes were for 47, 50, 76, 5, 55, 25 and 31 yards.
"The way Harding plays, they are going to give you a lot of man-to-man coverage," Kendrick said. "And they are going to come after you with the blitz. Ty got pounded tonight, but he stayed in there and made his reads and made some great throws.
"You have to stay in there and throw the ball downfield against them and take advantage of their defense."
The game actually started slowly, with Charleston leading 7-0 after one quarter.
Charleston went up 14-0, but Harding cut it to 14-7 before Charleston scored on a 47-yard touchdown shortly before the half to make it 21-7 at the break.
Charleston scored two more times in the third quarter to take a 34-7 lead, but Harding answered with two touchdowns to pull within 13 at 34-21.
SUMMARY — Charleston dethroned defending 3A champion Harding Academy and snapped the Wildcats’ 25 game winning streak to advance to the semifinals.
TURNING POINT — Ty Storey hit Chance Shelby on a 25-yard touchdown pass on fourth down as the Tigers went up 14-0.
STAT — Ty Storey threw for 533 yards and seven touchdowns for Charleston.
Charleston 7 14 13 13 — 48
Harding 0 7 7 7 — 21
Cha — Shelby 55 pass from Storey (Taggart kick), 4:11.
Cha — Shelby 25 pass from Storey (Taggart kick), 8:46.
Har — Davis 1 run (Davis kick), 3:10.
Cha — Ward 47 pass from Storey (Taggart kick), 2:15.
Cha — King 76 pass from Storey (Taggart kick), 11:15.
Cha — Ward 50 pass from Storey (kick failed), 2:33.
Har — Bickerstaff 24 pass from Francis (Davis kick), 46.8.
Har — Davis 33 pass from Francis (Davis kick) 8:54.
Cha — King 5 pass from Storey (Shelby pass to Storey), 7:33.
Cha — Shelby 31 pass from Storey (kick blocked), 3:53.
First Downs 19 20
Rushes-Yards 20-70 23-68
Comp-Att-Int 22-39-1 34-52-3
Passing Yards 599 396
RUSHING — Charleston, Pittman 7-69, Shelby 1-3, King 1-1, Storey 11-(-3). Harding Academy, Davis 13-47, Smith 5-17, Dickson 2-6, Francis 3-(-2).
PASSING — Charleston, Storey 21-38-1 533, Shelby 1-1-0 58. Harding Academy, Francis 34-52-3 396.
RECEIVING — Charleston, King 8-193, Shelby 1-191, Ward 3-135, Newhart 2-65, Pittman 1-15. Harding Academy, Davis 14-174, Bickerstaff 11-118, Fouts 2-41, Dickson 4-27, Mackey 2-16.