’Hawks dispatch Wolves 48-32
Team remains undefeated with a record of 5-0
The Blackhawks struck fast and early to assume control in a 1-4A district game in Lincoln last week, then cleared their bench in coasting to a 48-32 victory.
“We are not as good as we need to be,” head coach Stephen Neal said, “and we are not as good as we are going to be be. However, I am pleased with the team’s efforts and we are getting better.”
Seniors Jakota Sainsbury, Drew Winn, Hayden Holtgrewe and Jordan Witcher again sparked the ’Hawk offense with Tristen Brewer leading the defense.
Sainsbury completed 11 of 17 passes for 241 yards and four touchdowns. Holtgrewe had the most receiving yards with 167 that led to three touchdowns with Witcher coming up with the most catches with six and also also scored a touchdown.
Winn rushed for 270 yards on just 15 carries, a whopping 18 yards per carry average. The speedy tailback also scored three times. Brewer recorded a team high 12 tackles with Gavin Warden and Jackson Tillman having the second most with nine stops each.
Pea Ridge had a recurrence of the penalty bugaboo, with referees tossing flags at the ’Hawks on nine occasions. The first play of the game drew a flag, wiping out a 9-yard gain by Winn on the game’s first play. The penalty became inconsequential when Sainsbury dropped a pass into Holtgrewe’s hands on the next play as the receiver sped down field, racing untouched into the end zone with barely 44 seconds gone in the game. Evan Green’s good PAT kick put the ’Hawks on top 7-0 with 11:15 showing.
Penalties became a great aid to Lincoln after a flag was dropped following a Pea Ridge stop of Lincoln on a third down play. The penalty gave the Wolves a first down, and another penalty four plays later gave the hosts a first down on the ’Hawk 19. A fourth and 7 gamble by Lincoln just barely earned an additional first down, with the Wolves then scoring in three plays. Witcher shot through to block the kick with 4:59 showing to preserve the ’Hawk lead at 7-6.
Winn opened the next series with an 8-yard run, and after a short pass to Witcher, Winn accelerated through and by Wolf defenders to bolt 61 yards to the end zone. Winn’s score put the ’Hawks up 13-6 with 4:00 left in the first.
The Wolves’ next series wasn’t moving well until the yellow flags came out and gave Lincoln possession on the ’Hawk 41. Four runs and a 9-yard pass put the hosts on the ’Hawk 2 as the quarter expired. The first play of the second quarter saw the Lincoln quarterback sneak it in for the score. The good kick knotted the score at 1313 with 11:54 showing in the half.
Mistakes continued to plague the ’Hawks as a fumbled kickoff gave the ball back to Lincoln following their score. However, the defense rose up to limit the Wolves to just a 3-yard carry and two incomplete passes to force a punt. The punt was a beauty, pinning the ’Hawks all the way back to their own 10. Lincoln’s good fortune turned sour when Winn, burst off tackle and sprinted 90 yards down field to run by the Wolf defense and retake the lead for Pea Ridge. Green’s kick was true, moving the score to 20-13 with 10:50 left.
Lincoln then moved the ball 24 yards on two plays to near midfield before the ’Hawk’s Bailee Randolph derailed the Wolf drive with a fumble recovery on the Lincoln 43. Sainsbury threw half the distance to the goal on a 21-yarder to Holtgrewe, then went the rest of the way on a 23-yard toss to Witcher who raced across the goal line with 8:46 left in the half. Green booted the extra point for a 27-13 lead.
The ’Hawk defense held on the next series, forcing a punt back to the ’Hawks on their own 37. Winn broke off a 25-yard gainer only to see most of it called back due to a penalty. Two plays later saw the Wolves come up with an interception with a penalty tacked on to give Lincoln possession on the ’Hawk 24. A 7-yard run was followed by a 17-yard pass to score Lincoln’s third touchdown to shave the lead to 27-20.
After starting their next drive on their own 35, Winn would get them into Wolf territory on runs of 14 and 7. From there, Sainsbury connected with Holtgrewe on a 44-yard scoring bomb. With 3:55 left in the first half, Green’s successful kick boosted the ’Hawk advantage to 34-20.
The first half fireworks weren’t over with Gannon Conrad bursting through the Lincoln offensive line to recover a fumble on the Wolf 44. Winn battered their defensive line with runs of 4, 2, 7 and 3 for possession on the Lincoln 28. Sainsbury then lofted another pass Holtgrewe’s way and the wide receiver took it in for the team’s sixth score. Green again split the uprights, and Pea Ridge went to the locker room with a solid 41-20 lead.
The ’Hawk defenders came out of intermission ready to play, allowing the hosts but a single yard on their first three plays. The referee’s whistle took away the impending punt and gave the Wolves new life with a penalty against the ’Hawks. The ’Hawk defense stiffened further, however, with a quarterback sack by Mazon Harris with an assist by Tillman forcing a punt to Pea Ridge.
Three big plays later and the ’Hawks assumed a near insurmountable 48-20 lead. Winn ripped off a 22-yard dash, with a Sainsbury to Witcher pass netting 11 more yards. Winn finished the drive with his final big carry of the
evening, an electric 37-yard jaunt to the end zone. Green was again good on the PAT and the ’Hawks led 48-20 with 7:59 left in the third quarter.
Tillman stopped a Lincoln ball carrier short of the line of scrimmage on the first play following the kickoff, with Blake Bevill hanging a 5-yard loss on a Lincoln running back two plays later. However, facing a third and 16 from their own 23, the Wolves found an open receiver who took a pass and ran it in to interrupt the ’Hawks’ skein of 21 straight points. The ’Hawks blocked the kick to leave the score at 48-26 with 5:33 left in the third quarter.
The ’Hawk bench was fully involved for the rest of the game. and the ’Hawks used Trevor Henry to rush four times for 22 yards. Two passes to Witcher netted 12 yards. A penalty pushed the ’Hawks back to the Lincoln 17 from the 12, and a 6-yard pass to Holtgrewe couldn’t quite avoid the fourth down. The resulting field goal attempt went just wide left in the final minute of the third period,
The ’Hawks held the Wolves on downs early in the final quarter, with Henry subsequently running twice for 30 total yards with a 12-yarder from Tate Busey to Witcher pushing into Wolf territory at the 38. A short pass, a rushing loss followed by an incomplete pass led to the only punt of the game from Pea Ridge, however.
Facing a field of substitutes, the Wolves finally got a sustained drive going in the game’s final moments, traveling 97 yards in 10 plays to score the game’s last touchdown. Aided by two penalties against the ’Hawks, the Wolves finally scored on a 9-yard run with 2:42 left in the game to set the final margin at 48-32.
“Lincoln made a lot of good plays,” coach Neal said. “They did a lot of good things. We had a lot of players contribute and we will continue to get better.”
This week will be the ’Hawks’ sternest test of the conference schedule to date as they host the Gravette Lions. The ’Hawks haven’t lost a game at Gravette in seven years, but haven’t won a game on Pea Ridge soil since before 2000. Gravette will come ready to play, never really having a bad team as they have been perennial contenders for district honors.
Following the home date with Gravette, the ’Hawks will then turn their attention to the the defending conference champion Prairie Grove on Oct. 13. Both these home games will go along way to deciphering how the 2017 seedings from the 1-4A may shake out.
Game time Friday will be 7 p.m.
Blackhawk linemen Trevor Henry (No. 15) and Tristin Brewer (No. 25) work to contain the Wolf offense Friday night. Brewer was the leading force for the defense.
Blackhawks rejoice over a recovered ball Friday night.
Blackhawk senior Jordan Witcher had the most catches with six and scored a touchdown in Friday night’s battle with the Lincoln Wolves.