’Hawks start slow but race past Lin­coln 24-14

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - SPORTS - JOHN MCGEE Spe­cial to The TIMES

Stephen Neal’s Black­hawk foot­ball team started slowly but got things rolling to even­tu­ally score 24 unan­swered points to run their 4A-1 con­fer­ence record to 2-0 with a 24-14 home­com­ing vic­tory.

“We bat­tled a lot of ad­ver­sity early,” Neal re­marked, “but we kept our heads, man­aged to get a team ef­fort go­ing and we won the game. We are grow­ing.”

While the first half scor­ing was dead even to go with nearly iden­ti­cal yardage, the se­cond half was a dif­fer­ent story. The ’Hawks out­gained the Wolves 219 to 80 in to­tal yards in the fi­nal two quar­ters, help­ing them run their vic­tory streak over Lin­coln to five wins in a row. Pea Ridge ended the bat­tle with a 312-182 yardage ad­van­tage.

Quar­ter­back Tate Busey was again the spark plug for the team, lead­ing the of­fense with 10 of 20 pass­ing for 208 yards, con­nect­ing with Bray­den Ralph and Pey­ton Gal­braith for a pair of touch­downs. Busey also ac­counted for the ’Hawks’ lone rush­ing touch­down, dash­ing 7 yards for a score.

Per­haps the play of the game was Busey’s read on fourth down at the Lin­coln 45-yard line mid­way in the se­cond quar­ter. Busey had Neal’s con­fi­dence to be able to read the de­fense and could ei­ther punt it away or go for it on fourth and 2. The ju­nior field gen­eral read the de­fense and de­cided to head for the east side­line, run­ning out of bounds a yard past the first down marker. Seven plays later the ’Hawks were in the end zone to tie the score at 7-7 and the rest was history.

Things did not go well at all in the open­ing quar­ter. The ’Hawks’ first two pos­ses­sions net­ted zero yards, and their third pos­ses­sion was three and out af­ter one play that gained 5 yards.

The ’Hawk de­fense kept the Wolves bot­tled up on their first pos­ses­sion, but Lin­coln eked out a 15-play drive that con­sumed most of the first pe­riod. Most of the yardage came from the arm of quar­ter­back Caleb Loyd and it was Loyd who scored the game’s first touch­down. The 1-yard run and suc­cess­ful PAT put the Wolves ahead 7-0 with just un­der two min­utes left in the pe­riod.

The quar­ter ended with Lin­coln on their own 9-yard line af­ter a mas­ter­ful punt by Busey. Though the vis­i­tors en­joyed a 95-5 in yardage over the ’Hawks in the open­ing pe­riod, things would change rapidly in the se­cond.

Af­ter Lin­coln got a first down on their own 19, Adam Tram­mel sacked Loyd for a 3-yard loss on their next play. Af­ter an in­com­ple­tion due to a very tight ’Hawk de­fense, Tris­ten Brewer broke through to nail the quar­ter­back for a whop­ping 10-yard loss, lead­ing to a Lin­coln punt.

The ’Hawks suf­fered a hold­ing penalty on their en­su­ing pos­ses­sion, and the loss of yards led to an­other ’Hawk punt. Busey got off a 43-yarder to pin Lin­coln back to their 15.

Mike Ma­honey barged through Lin­coln’s line to drop the Wolf ball car­rier for a 5-yard loss, with Brewer and Luis Reyes team­ing up to sack the Lin­coln quar­ter­back for a 3-yard loss on the next play. A sub­se­quent in­com­ple­tion led to a Wolf punt and a ’Hawk pos­ses­sion be­gin­ning on the Pea Ridge 47.

Samuel Beard ran three times for eight yards into Lin­coln ter­ri­tory at the

46. Busey dropped back to punt on fourth down and 2, but the quick field gen­eral saw a seam and avail­able block­ing to make a dash for a first down and keep the drive alive. He made it, ex­tend­ing the drive, and giv­ing the team an emo­tional lift.

Beard burst loose for 12 yards and an­other first down on the next play. Beard ran twice more for 7 yards and on third and 3, Busey faked a hand off, then sprinted straight ahead for 10 yards and a first down on the Lin­coln

13. Ma­honey bashed the line for a tough yard with Beard nearly break­ing loose, man­ag­ing to pick up 5 yards to the Wolf 7. On third and 4, Busey kept the ball and out­ma­neu­vered the de­fense to sprint into the end zone. Reyes’ good PAT kick tied the score at 7-7 which is where the score would stand at the half.

Pea Ridge had a re­ver­sal of for­tunes, out gain­ing their guests 87 to -4 in the se­cond pe­riod, to lead the half­time yardage statis­tics 93-92.

The third quar­ter ac­tion was a con­tin­u­a­tion of the se­cond, with Reyes drop­ping the Lin­coln run­ning back for a 3-yard loss on the very first play. The ’Hawk de­fen­sive backs forced the next two passes by the Wolf quar­ter­back to fall harm­lessly to the turf. On the next play, Car­son Rhine came up with a big in­ter­cep­tion to give Pea Ridge the ball on their own 33.

Fac­ing a third and 10, Busey hit Gal­braith on a route down the mid­dle to gain 36 yards to the Lin­coln 31. The next play saw Busey flip a 14-yarder to sure handed Hunter Rains for a first down on the Wolf 17. Three run­ning plays fell short of first down yardage, so place kicker Reyes came on to boot a 34-yarder through the up­rights for a 10-7 lead mid-way through the third quar­ter.

Lin­coln tried to get fired up, and did man­age a first down on two passes to the Lin­coln 20, but the ’Hawks’ Ma­zon Har­ris rained on their pa­rade by drop­ping the next ball car­rier for a 2-yard loss. The next rush­ing play saw a swarm of ’Hawk de­fend­ers sweep over the ball car­rier for a 4-yard loss, which led to an­other punt.

The ’Hawks gath­ered in the punt on the Lin­coln 44, and af­ter the first two passes failed to click, Busey hit Rains for a 7-yarder to the 37. Fac­ing a fourth and 3, Busey crossed up the de­fense by drop­ping a pass over the cov­er­age to a streak­ing Ralph who took the pass in stride, bolt­ing across the goal line with 5:19 show­ing, Reyes split the up­rights again, leav­ing the ’Hawks firmly ahead 17-7.

Fear­ing the game slipping away from them, the Wolves launched a pass­ing drive with Loyd con­nect­ing with four dif­fer­ent Lin­coln re­ceivers to move the ball deeply into Pea Ridge ter­ri­tory at the ’Hawk 30. An­other sack of the quar­ter­back led to a fourth and 3 with Lin­coln de­cid­ing to thrown it into the end zone hop­ing for a touch­down. Their plans were foiled with Rhine took his se­cond in­ter­cep­tion of the quar­ter, this time tak­ing it at the ’Hawk 1 and re­turn­ing it out to the 30.

Beard got off a great run on first down, but a 5-yard penalty on the next play wiped out the yardage. Busey then con­nected with Rains in traf­fic to move the ball 34 yards down field and gain a new set of downs. Busey then eluded the de­fense for an 11-yard run, but a hold­ing penalty elim­i­nated 10 of those yards. The ’Hawks’ dis­ap­point­ment was tem­po­rary as Busey hooked up with Gal­braith on a 19-yard pass play to the Wolf 27. Two plays later left the ’Hawks with a third and 4, but an­other flag flew to push Pea Ridge back to a third and 13 sit­u­a­tion on the Lin­coln 30.

With just sec­onds left in the pe­riod, Busey threaded a pass to Gal­braith who took it all the way in to score the ’Hawks’ third touch­down. Reyes was ac­cu­rate again, giv­ing the ’Hawks a solid 24-7 lead headed into the last pe­riod.

The ’Hawk de­fense had Lin­coln’s num­ber, with the guests los­ing 5 yards on their first three plays of the fi­nal quar­ter. An en­su­ing boom­ing Lin­coln punt went 58 yards, pin­ning the ’Hawks back to the own 18-yard line. Af­ter a penalty against the ’Hawks, Beard made a great 8-yard run to give his team a shot at first down. How­ever, an in­ter­cep­tion on the next play set the Wolves up on the ’Hawk 27. Two plays later saw Lin­coln score on a 24-yard pass from Loyd to Ster­ling Mor­phis. The kick af­ter was good to trim the ’Hawk ad­van­tage down to 24-14 with 8:31 left in the game.

A 10-yard re­cep­tion by Rains from Busey got the ’Hawks an ini­tial first down, but the home­boys could not sus­tain the drive forc­ing a punt back to Lin­coln with 5 min­utes left in the game. How­ever, a lost yardage play and a penalty de­railed the ’Hawks’ hopes of run­ning the clock out thus giv­ing the Wolves a lit­tle hope with 2:35 left to go.

Us­ing first down passes to Phe­lan and to Mor­phis, and with a pair of good runs by Loyd, Lin­coln got past mid­field and down to the ’Hawk 32.

It was at this point that the de­fense bowed its back and said “no more.” On the next play, the ’Hawks swept over the Lin­coln line to hand the quar­ter­back a 9-yard loss. Two plays later saw the Wolf field gen­eral go down for a 13-yard loss, and fac­ing a fourth and 32, the ’Hawk pur­suit caught up to the quar­ter­back 11 yards deep to re­gain the ball on downs, thus end­ing the con­test.

Be­sides Busey’s hero­ics, Beard led the team in rush­ing again this week, pil­ing up 61 yards on 23 totes. Busey had 27 on eight tries.

Rains had the most re­cep­tions with four, gain­ing 65 yards. Gal­braith had the most yardage, 88, on three re­cep­tions. Ralph’s one catch was a scor­ing one.

On the de­fen­sive side of things, Brewer led the way with nine stops. Right be­hind him was Ma­son Har­well and Jake Adams with eight tack­les each while Reyes, Tram­mel and Arnoldo Ras­con all con­trib­uted seven tack­les. Car­son Rhine had six, with Ma­honey and Justin Koon hav­ing four.

The de­feat was Lin­coln’s first af­ter start­ing 4-0. The vic­tory was the Black­hawks’ third in a row, with their next con­fer­ence bat­tle set to take place next week at winless Gravette.

TIMES pho­to­graphs by An­nette Beard

Field gen­eral Tate Busey (No. 4) launches a pass while of­fen­sive line­men hold off the Wolf de­fend­ers — se­nior Dal­ton Nes­bitt (No. 55), ju­nior Phillip Brown (No. 61) and se­nior Trevon McDon­ald (No. 50) block the Wolves from reach­ing the Black­hawk quar­ter­back.

Dur­ing the third quar­ter, ju­nior Black­hawk Luis Reyes (No. 19) dropped the Lin­coln run­ning back for a 3-yard loss on the very first play. Reyes and Adam Tram­mel (No. 39) had seven tack­les each Fri­day night.

TIMES pho­to­graphs by An­nette Beard

Ju­nior Black­hawk Ma­zon Har­ris (No. 32) holds back a Lin­coln player; Har­ris rained on the Wolves’ pa­rade by drop­ping a ball car­rier for a 2-yard loss, Fri­day night.

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