CONWAY — A few mistakes hurt but a lot of big plays made up for it as Pea Ridge rambled over Hamburg 50-30 to win the Hooten’s Classic Trophy at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway Monday night.
Blackhawk Senior Drew Winn scored four touchdowns, rushing for 170 yards on 25 carries to lead the squad. Senior quarterback Jakota Sainsbury had a good night under center, completing 14 of 19 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns.
The ’Hawks’ dangerous senior wide receivers Hayden Holtgrewe and Jordan Witcher made sensational plays. The duo accounted for all the passing yards with Witcher catching four for 6 yards and one score with Holtgrewe grabbing eight passes for 137 yards and two TDs.
Hamburg got the ball first to start the game but the ’Hawk defenders wouldn’t let them across midfield. On the ’Hawks’ first series, runs of 9 and 15 by Winn and passes from Sainsbury to Witcher for 15 yards along with an 8-yard toss to Holtgrewe gained the ’Hawks a first down on the Lion 16. A fumble two plays later derailed the drive, however.
It was the defense keeping the lid on Hamburg that gave the ball back to Pea Ridge four plays later near midfield. This then led to the ’Hawks’ first denting of the scoreboard in 2017.
The ’Hawks first scoring drive began when Winn ran for 6 yards off tackle on first down to the Hamburg 46. They couldn’t get anything going, though, and were forced to punt. Sainsbury’s punt sailed to the Lion 10 and when the Hamburg return man couldn’t handle the ball in traffic, the pigskin spurted loose with an alert Quinten Miller covering the ball for the ’Hawks on the Lion 26.
The new set of downs inspired the ’Hawks as they nearly scored on second down when Sainsbury threaded a pass to Witcher who caught it in traffic for 18 yards to the Lion 9. Three runs by Winn and the Blackhawks drew first blood. The senior tailback rolled into the end zone on a 8-yard jaunt with 3:12 showing in the first quarter. Evan Green booted the PAT to put the ’Hawks up 7-0.
The lead didn’t stand up long as the Lions Shannon Brennen took the kickoff at the 2-yard line and ran it back all the way to score. Primitivo Lemus converted the kick and the teams were knotted up at 7-all with 2:58 left.
The ’Hawks couldn’t move the ball after a 10-yard dash by Winn got an initial first down. The Lions couldn’t do much either, netting 4 yards on two plays to punt the ball back to Pea Ridge to start the second period. Holtgrewe’s 29-yard return had the ’Hawks knocking on the door at the Lion 22.
Winn opened the possession with a 9-yarder, with Sainsbury keeping up the middle on the next play for a first down to the Hamburg 6. After a loss on a play, Winn swept left and shot into the end zone for an 8-yard scoring jaunt. Green’s second accurate PAT put the ’Hawks up 14-7.
The turning momentum spurred the Lions to drive 31 yards in five plays to cross midfield at the 49. A fourth down gamble by Hamburg might have worked if the ’Hawks’ Robby Pickthal hadn’t ripped the ball away. The turnover negated what would have been a first down.
It didn’t take the ’Hawks long to score following the take away. Sainsbury flipped a 6-yarder to Holtgrewe, then threw a bomb to a wide open Witcher, who took it all along on the 30, then rambled in for the score, a 49-yard scoring strike. Green split the uprights and Pea Ridge led their foe 21-7 with 7:22 left in the half.
The Lions’ trouble running on the ’Hawk defense forced them to an air attack, throwing nine of 12 plays to move down to the ’Hawk 19. Facing a fourth and 7 on the 19, the Lions opted to settle for a field goal, with Lemus drilling it from 36 yards out to cut the deficit to 21-10.
Both teams stalled out on their next possessions with the ’Hawks getting the last possession. However, a 29-yard punt was followed by a 24-yard return by Holtgrewe to give the ’Hawks great field possession on the Lion 25 with 7 seconds left in the half. A lightning pass to Holtgrewe netted 11 yards to the Lion 14 where the senior receiver called first down with 2 seconds left. Evan Green came on to try a 32-yard field goal, and he kicked it through as time expired sending the ’Hawks into intermission with a 24-10 lead.
The ’Hawks had the ball to start the second half, and they made great use of it, driving 61 yards in six plays to score again. Runs by Winn, Pickthal and senior Chase Duncan got the ball to the Lion 42. On second down, Sainsbury hit Holtgrewe on the left sidelines and the wide receiver dodged tackles, then did a flying leap over one would-be tackler to add 5 more yards onto the run which gave the ’Hawks a first down on the Hamburg 16. The very next play saw Holtgrewe sliding into the end zone to haul in a low pass. The score came with 10:12 left in the third with Greens boot pushing the lead out to 31-10.
Ranked No. 10 in the 4A state, Hamburg refused to go down without a fight, relying on passes from Kelley to Johnson and Forrest to gain 24 yards to their 38. The next play was controversial when a long pass to the ’Hawk 30 was about to be intercepted by a defensive back was pushed down from behind allowing the receiver to catch the ball uncontested, running it down to the 1-yard line. Two plays later Forrest bulled it into the end zone for the score.
The kick was good, shrinking the lead to 31-17 with 7:19 left in the third.
The ’Hawks stumbled on their next series, losing 6 yards in three plays. A fired up Lion defense then broke through to partially block the ’Hawks’ fourth down punt, getting the ball back on the Lion 48. A 28-yard pass from Kelley to Forrest gained 22, with a Kelley keeper gaining 11 more to the ’Hawk 19. Brennon’s 5-yard run nearly went all the way but got the Lions to the 14. Forrest then ran left and sneaked into the end zone with 4:42 left in the third. However, the run of good fortune ended when they failed in their PAT attempt to leave the score at 31-23.
Senior tailback Winn took over the game at this point, making lightning runs for 5, 11, 11, 9, then finally for 25 to dash into the end zone for the third time, blunting Hamburg’s comeback attempt. With 3:13 on the clock in the third quarter, Green’s good PAT gave Pea Ridge a more comfortable 38-23.
This time, it was the ’Hawks time to fire up their defense, and it was 3 and out for the Lion offense. The ’Hawks’ next possession was marred by two penalties for 20 yards, forcing a punt back to Hamburg. The defense for Pea Ridge was still fired up, allowing no yards with Hamburg punting at the end of the third quarter facing
a fourth and 20.
Starting out from the Hamburg 46, Winn started the possession bashing the line for 3 and 6 yards. Pickthal picked up the first down, punishing Lion defenders for 7 yards to the Hamburg 30. Winn then broke right and outran the defenders to pay dirt on the next play.
Winn’s fourth score came close to putting the game out of reach as Pea Ridge led 44-23 with 10:19 left in the game.
The ’Hawks hung a 5-yard loss on second down on the Lions, with a subsequent penalty pushing Hamburg back to their own 12. The punt, as happened so many times this game, was returned by Holtgrewe. His 23-yard return on a 36-yard punt got the ’Hawks a first down on the Lion 25. The very next play saw Sainsbury execute a perfectly thrown lead pass to Holtgrewe who took it in stride and outran the defender to the end zone. Holtgrewe’s second score helped the ’Hawks hit the half century mark, ballooning the lead to 50-23 with 9:07 left, virtually icing the game.
With the ’Hawks now liberally substituting players, the Lions managed to generate a sustained scoring drive. They moved 80 yards in 10 plays to score on a Kelley to Forrest pass. However, the drive took nearly half of the remaining minutes and though the lead was reduced to 50-30, there was just 5:03 left in the game.
Pea Ridge then kept the ball on the ground, chewing up the clock. Chase Duncan ran five times for 37 yards before the ’Hawks turned the ball back to Hamburg on the Lion 25. The Lions left their starters in but could not move into Pea Ridge territory before the final buzzer.
The game turned on the ability of the ’Hawks to hang in there in the face of adversity, and a big part of their edge was the ’Hawks’ superior punting ability. Punter Sainsbury out kicked his counterpart by more than a dozen yards on average with one of his boots traveling 54 yards at a time when the Lions were trying to generate some momentum.
The ’Hawks don’t have much time to think about their victory with a rematch with Booneville looming this Friday. The ’Hawks handled the Bearcats last year 40-21 but the boys from south of the river have improved greatly since that initial game last year and are hoping for payback. The game, at Booneville, will be a battle.
The game with Hamburg was also a rematch, after the ’Hawks ended the Lions season with a 36-24 win last year. Hamburg has now lost their last two games in a row to Pea Ridge. As the Lions have won nine games every year for the past three years, they will be a force to be reckoned with and the ’Hawks may even see them again come this November.
Senior Blackhawk Hayden Holtgrewe (No. 23) hurdled over a Hamburg Lion defender as he raced down the sidelines Monday night towards the end zone. In the second half, on second down, Holtgrewe dodged tackles, then did a flying leap over one would-be tackler to add 5 more yards onto the run which gave the ’Hawks a first down on the Hamburg 16. The very next play saw Holtgrewe sliding into the end zone to haul in a low pass. The score came with 10:12 left in the third with Evan Green’s boot pushing the lead out to 31-10.
Blackhawk golfer Harrison Cato, a junior, prepared to swing on the 7th hole at Big Sugar during a golf match between Pea Ridge and Huntsville.
Lady Blackhawk Katelyn Swope prepares to swing as she and lady golfers from Huntsville compete Monday at Big Sugar Golf Course.
Blackhawk defenders (above) Tristin Brewer (No. 25), Carson Rhine (No. 10) and Justin Koon (No. 16) prevent the Lion ball carrier from proceding downfield. Blackhawk senior Drew Winn (photo at left) scored four touchdowns, rushing for 170 yards on 25 carries to lead the squad.