’Hawks take down Gravette 42-28

Run record to 6-0

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - SPORTS - AN­NETTE BEARD abeard@nwadg.com

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

20.

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.

TIMES pho­to­graph by An­nette Beard

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.

TIMES pho­to­graphs by An­nette Beard

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.

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