’Hawks take down Gravette 42-28
Run record to 6-0
The undefeated Blackhawk football team protected their unblemished record by defeating the Gravette Lions 42-28 last week, setting the stage for a battle for control of the conference this Friday with the other undefeated team in the league, Prairie Grove.
“I was glad our defense got to see as good a running back as they have seen all year in Gravette’s Austin O’Brien,” coach Stephen Neal said. “It was quite a challenge for our defense and the experience will help us down the road.”
Senior speedster Drew Winn had a big night, rushing for an astounding 314 yards on just 20 carries, scoring four of the ’Hawks’ six touchdowns. His yardage total shot him to the top spot in rushing yards for the district at 1,174, just a bit under a 200-yard per game average.
The game got off to an inauspicious start when Gravette short kicked the opening kickoff, with the Lions recovering on the ’Hawk 38. With the speedy trio of Winn, Jordan Witcher and Hayden Holtgrewe back to receive kickoffs, the Lions opted to short kick every kickoff they attempted but were only successful once in a takeaway.
The Lions’ first possession starting in ’Hawk territory didn’t pan out as the Pea Ridge defenders ganged up to hold heralded Lion running back Austin O’Brien to just 2 yards on three carries, forcing an early turnover on downs.
Starting from their own 31, the ’Hawks used a 3-yarder by Winn and a 9-yard run by Robby Pickthal to gain a first down to the 46. Two short runs and a dropped pass forced a punt, with the Lions setting up on their own 19. With O’Brien bottled up by ’Hawk defenders, the Lions could not move the ball and were forced to punt the ball back on fourth and 2, with the ball rolling to the ’Hawk 33.
The ’Hawks came out throwing, with Jakota Sainsbury flipping an 18-yard pass to Witcher to the Lion 49. Winn burst through for 16 yards to the Lion 33 on the next play, where Sainsbury lofted a perfectly timed pass into the corner of the end zone where Holtgrewe ran under it, catching it for the game’s first score. Evan Green punched the PAT through for a 7-0 lead with 4:07 left in the first quarter.
With the ’Hawks’ attention directed to O’Brien, Lion quarterback Tajae White slipped loose for 19 yards to the Gravette 46. An second and 10 pass two plays later was considerably overthrown, but a referee decided to flag a ’Hawk defender for interference to give the Lions a first down in Pea Ridge territory at the 39. O’Brien finally got untracked and three runs totalled more than 20 yards to get the Lions close at the 22. A fourth down kick from there went wide, giving the ’Hawks the final play of the first quarter. What a play it was, as Winn brought the crowd to its feet by dashing 71 yards to the Lion 7, breaking tackles, spinning loose and side stepping a host of defenders on the way.
Pickthal punched it on on the first play of the second quarter from the 7, with Green converting the point after again. Four seconds into the second period, the ’Hawks were out on front of the visitors 14-0.
The two touchdown deficit fired up the Lions, as they leaned on White to move the ball downfield. Runs of 4, 5, 5 and 8 helped move the visitors into ’Hawk territory again, this time to the
36. A holding penalty and stiffer defense forced a punt with the ’Hawks taking over on their own
The ’Hawks didn’t have the ball long as all it took was two runs by Winn and Pea Ridge was in the end zone for the third time. The first jaunt was an 18-yarder, but the second run went the last 62 yards, with the senior all-stater bouncing defenders to scoot into the end zone with 7:17 left in the half. Green’s perfect kick ballooned the score to 21-0.
O’Brien and White worked their running back tandem to perfection as they alternated carries and moved the ball into Pea Ridge territory for the fourth time. This time, they fooled ’Hawk defenders with a pass to O’Brien who threaded his way for 37 yards to paydirt. Childress converted for the guests and Gravette closed the gap to 21-7 with 4:24 left.
The ’Hawks responded by banging out three straight first downs to quickly move into Lion territory. Winn started things off with a 10-yard run followed by two passes from Sainsbury to Holtgrewe that netted 12 then 14 yards. A 3-yard catch by Witcher was followed by a 10-yard dash by Winn which gave the ’Hawks a first down on the Gravette 16. A sack by the Lions pushed the ’Hawks back, but a subsequent 17-yarder to Holtgrewe set the ’Hawks up first down on the Lion 5. A short pass to Witcher put the ’Hawks on the Lion 3, where Winn rammed it in on the next play. Green’s kick made it 28-7.
With the clock running out, the Lions went to the air on their next possession but they were derailed when Carson Rhine intercepted a pass to extinguish the Lions’ last chance of the half.
Gravette came out of the half determined to erase the large halftime deficit. With O’Brien doing the bulk of the damage, the Lions drove 85 yards on just six plays, the biggest of which was a 65-yard run by O’Brien who broke tackles and refused to go down. With a first and 1 on the 1, the Lions’ Soule rammed it in for the score. Childress’ kick narrowed the gap to 28-14 with 9:56 showing on the clock.
The score fed the Lion defense as the fired up visitors held the ’Hawks to -1 yardage on their first series, getting the ball back on the
Lion 14 after a tremendous 49-yard punt by Sainsbury.
O’Brien burst through for 26 yards to near midfield but a couple of lost yardage plays forced them into a fourth and 21 from the Lion 31. The ensuing snap to the punter sailed over the Lion’s head with the ball winding up on the Gravette 1-yard line after a scramble, seemingly giving the ’Hawks a near certain touchdown. After a long conversation at the goal line, one of the judges noted that one of the ’Hawk defenders who was coming out of the game had not gotten completely off the field before Gravette snapped the ball. Though no flag was thrown, the officials decided to turn the ball back over to Gravette, eventually to the ’Hawk 49yard line.
The ’Hawk defense stiffened at this point, with the Lions soon facing a third and 4 from the ’Hawk 39. Rhine broke through to hang a 6-yard loss on the Lion quarterback and force another punt.
Winn started off the next possession with a pair of runs totalling 12 yards to the ’Hawk 30. Winn then rushed for 2 more, with 5 more tacked on when a Lion grabbed his face mask. Sainsbury then crossed up the Lion defense by throwing Winn a pass, with the seniorback advancing the ball 19 yards to the Gravette 45. Witcher grabbed the next pass for 15 yards with two runs by Winn and a 10-yarder from Sainsbury to Holtgrewe moving the ball down to the Lion 10.
Pickthal barrelled his way for six yards on first down with Winn streaking into the end zone on the next play to score. Green was true again, sending the ’Hawks into the fourth quarter with a commanding 35-14 lead.
Working with an of urgency, the Lions refused to concede defeat. White and O’Brien alternated six rushing plays that moved the ball into ’Hawk territory at the 46. With 9:50 left in the game, OBrien ran left than ran down the west sidelines, pushing past ’Hawk defenders to run into the end zone. Childress hit the PAT to bring the lead down to 14 again at 35-21.
With the Lions sensing a turning of momentum, the feeling quickly crashed when Winn took the first handoff to race 80 yards past Lion defenders to restore the 21-point lead less than 15 seconds after the Lion score. Green’s boot gave the ’Hawks a 42-21 lead, and all but iced the contest.
O’Brien, who racked 137 of his 283 yards in the last 10 minutes of the game, raced 51 yards on the second play of their next possession, then scored on a 31-yard jaunt with 6:13 left in the game. Childress’ fourth kick set the sore at 42-28.
The Lions needed a successful onside kick to have a chance to score quickly and maybe have a chance to win. However, when the kicker stutterstepped, the Lion defenders passed him and were offside, setting off flags. A Lion verbally harassed an official for the call, which netted another 15 yards penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, pushing the kickoff back to the Lion 20-yard line. The resulting kick to follow barely traveled 5 yards, giving the ball to Pea Ridge on the Lion 28.
The ’Hawks turned the ball over to the Lions not long afterwards, but the visitors had but 2:49 to make up 14 points. O’Brien ran for 10 yards on first down, but with no time outs left, the Lions decided to throw downfield to get to the end one. Four straight passes fell incomplete and the ’Hawks regained the ball on the Lion 36. After Winn picked up 14 yards on two runs to get the ’Hawks to the 22, Pea Ridge then took a knee for the last minute to run the clock out and close the book on the game.
In addition to Winn’s heroics, Sainsbury had another good night as the ’Hawk signal caller. He was 13 of 16 for 155 yards, passing the 1,000 yard mark for the season as did Winn in rushing yardage. Holtgrewe caught eight passes for 98 yards with Witcher catching four more for 38 yards.
Tristin Brewer led the Blackhawks again in tackles recorded with 16. Gavin Warden was close behind with 15 tackles with Jackson Tillman also in double figures with 12 tackles.
After the game, Coach Neal said: “This game showed us that we still have things to work on. We played well but not up to our talent level yet. We are 6-0 and I can’t complain about that, but we will have to be at our best next Friday.”
The season will come to a high point this Friday with the invasion of the Prairie Grove defending champions. Game time will be 7 p.m. but the stands will be full on both sides, so come early.
The Blackhawk offensive line faced the Lions defensive line at the end zone Friday night in a battle won by the Blackhawks in Blackhawk Stadium.
Senior speedster Drew Winn had a big night, rushing for an astounding 314 yards on just 20 carries, scoring four of the Blackhawks’ six touchdowns. Below, Blackhawk senior Drew Winn (No. 6) is the leader of most yards rushing, most touchdowns scored, and most points scored in the most recent posting of the 1-4A football statistics as compiled by the MaxPreps/CBS high school football website. See John McGee’s column on pg. 2B for more.