’Hawks start slow but race past Lincoln 24-14
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.
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.
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.