Black­hawks ham­mer Gravette

Go to 3-0 in district

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

The Pea Ridge Black­hawks foot­ball squad whipped cross county ri­val Gravette 42-0 to re­main un­de­feated in con­fer­ence play.

The win was the ’Hawks’ fourth straight vic­tory over the Lions on Gravette’s home field and it was by the largest mar­gin in the Black­hawks’ five wins over the Lions. The ’Hawks’ widest win­ning mar­gin pre­vi­ously was 30 (46-16) in head coach Stephen Neal’s first year at the helm in 2016.

The vic­tory all but cinched a spot in the 2018 4A state play­offs with an im­por­tant game with Prairie Grove loom­ing this week. The Tigers and Black­hawks were last year’s 4A-1 district co-cham­pi­ons.

“We had a great week in prac­tice,” coach Neal said. “We had a lot of play­ers con­trib­ute and I had to say they played up to ex­pec­ta­tions. Tate Busey ran the of­fense ex­cep­tion­ally well.”

Busey has firmly es­tab­lished him­self as a dual threat play with the ju­nior field gen­eral rush­ing for 182 yards on just eight car­ries, while pass­ing for 88 more on seven of 14 at­tempts. He scored twice on the ground, and twice more through the air.

The ’Hawks got the game off to a sen­sa­tional start af­ter Gravette took the open­ing kick­off. The first Lion play was a deep pass to their top re­ceiver, with the ’Hawks de­fender Car­son Rhine knock­ing the ball loose, then snatch­ing the loose pigskin out of the air be­fore fall­ing to the turf with the in­ter­cep­tion.

Rhine then got the call on the ’Hawks’ first two plays, rip­ping through the Lion de­fenses for 8 then 6 yards for a first down on the Gravette 42. Busey then tossed a 7-yard pass to Trevor Blair, then hand­ing it off on the next play to Rhine who ram­bled half­way to the goal line on a 17yard gal­lop. Hunter Rains took a 2-yard pitch, with Busey fol­low­ing

that with a pass to a streak­ing Bray­den Ralph who crossed the goal line from 15 yards out with 9:35 left in the first quar­ter. Rhine ran in the PAT to give the ’Hawks an 8-0 lead.

While the hosts could not move the ball on their sec­ond pos­ses­sion, they did get a 15-yard penalty in their fa­vor to move the ball to their own 37. How­ever, Gan­non Conrad and Gavin War­den teamed up to drop the quar­ter­back for a 5-yard loss, which led to a punt.

The ’Hawks were hit with an­other penalty on their en­su­ing pos­ses­sion, even­tu­ally be­ing

forced to punt it back to the Gravette 11. Gravette’s lead­ing ground gainer, Ta­jae White, then ran three times for 33 yards to the Lion 46, but the ’Hawks slammed the door to force an­other punt.

The ’Hawks then made short work of the Gravette de­fense when Busey broke loose on first down, out­ma­neu­ver­ing and out­run­ning a host of de­fend­ers 75 yards straight up the mid­dle to the end zone. Luis Reyes booted the PAT to put the ’Hawks up 15-0 with 3:55 left in the first.

The Lions went three and out

again, with a strong rush on the punter giv­ing the ball back to Pea Ridge on the 50-yard line. Sa­muel Beard snapped off a 22-yard gainer but a hold­ing call wip­ing out all but 5 of the yards. Two plays later Busey rec­ti­fied the sit­u­a­tion by dash­ing 22 yards him­self to the Gravette 33. Fac­ing a third and 7 mo­ments later, Ralph gath­ered in his sec­ond pass for an 11-yard gain to the 22-yard line. Beard rushed for 2, then 14, and then 6 more to score the ’Hawks’ third touch­down. With 10:36 show­ing in the half, Pea Ridge had a 22-0 lead.

Gravette started their next pos­ses­sion with good field po­si­tion, but when they faced a third and 6 from their own 47, Reyes darted in to nail the Lion ball car­rier for a 6-yard loss to force still an­other punt, which was their best one of the evening, trav­el­ing 44 yards. The ’Hawks could do lit­tle with their next pos­ses­sion so the Lions got the ball back on the Pea Ridge 48.

The short field seemed to boost the Lions as they be­gan to move the ball for the first time. Quar­ter­back Cy Hil­ger and White teamed up to move the ball on the ground 34 yards on six car­ries to the ’Hawk 16. Three plays then net­ted them 6 yards to the Pea Ridge 10. Hil­ger threw a fourth down pass on tar­get into the end zone but Justin Koon got a hand on the pass to knock the ball away and pre­serve the shut out.

The teams then traded punts un­til the last mo­ments of the half. The Lions had the ball on their own 23 with 1:41 left. On first down, War­den dashed in to drop the quar­ter­back for a 7-yard loss. Tristin Brewer barged right through the block­ers to take down a ball car­rier for a 3-yard loss on sec­ond down. Mike Mahoney, Tristin Brewer and Reyes then com­pleted the de­fen­sive tri­fecta by sack­ing the quar­ter­back for an 8-yard loss on third down back to the Gravette 5. A 35-yard punt gave the ball back to Pea Ridge on the Lion 40.

With 38 sec­onds left in the half, the ’Hawks proved that was more than enough time to score as Busey shot a first down pass to Ralph who mo­tored it in for a 40-yard score. Reyes’ kick was true, send­ing the Black­hawks into in­ter­mis­sion with a 29-0 lead.

The ’Hawks got the ball first in the sec­ond half, but a fum­ble gave the ball to the hosts near mid­field at the Gravette 45. The Lions rush­ing tan­dem of White and Hil­ger got their of­fense rolling, mov­ing the ball all the way to the ’Hawk 5. How­ever, Gravette faced a fourth down and goal and a Lion run­ner looked like he had a seam to roll into the end zone. Brewer came knif­ing over to drop the Lion just inches from the goal line to ex­tin­guish the threat.

Busey went up the mid­dle for 3 yards to the 4, with Mahoney com­ing in smash for­ward for 3 more. Beard then ran around the left side to pick up 14 yards and give the ’Hawks a first down and breath­ing room on the Black­hawk 21. The next play saw the ’Hawks take the breath away from the Lions as Busey broke loose to scam­per 79 yards to pay dirt. The touch­down ig­nited the mercy rule as Pea Ridge now led 35-0 with 5:41 left in the third quar­ter.

Though the ’Hawks were sub­sti­tut­ing lib­er­ally, the Lions couldn’t get any­thing go­ing and were forced to punt be­fore the end of the quar­ter. The ’Hawks took over on the Gravette 40, and for the third time in the game, Pea Ridge had a one-play scor­ing drive. Beard took the first down hand off then raced into the end zone with 1:26 left in the pe­riod. Reyes’ suc­cess­ful kick put the fi­nal touch on the 42-0 shel­lack­ing.

Cole Brown made waves in the fourth quar­ter on both sides of the ball. The sopho­more ath­lete rushed five times for 37 yards in the next ’Hawk pos­ses­sion, then came up with a pair of de­fen­sive gems in the Lions suc­ceed­ing set of downs.

A pair of long runs by White and Hil­ger put the Lions on the ’Hawk 30, giv­ing the home team a hope of avoid­ing the shut out. On first down on the 30, a Hil­ger pass was on the mark but Black­hawk David Snarr suc­ceeded in bat­ting the ball away for an in­com­ple­tion. On sec­ond down, Brown cut in to in­ter­cept the pass, but a penalty away from the play wiped out the ef­fort. Brown got the last laugh, though, when he stripped the ball away from the Lion ball car­rier in­side the 10-yard line to wrap the game up with a fum­ble re­cov­ery.

In ad­di­tion to Busey’s hero­ics, Beard rushed for 98 yards on just 10 car­ries, with Rhine get­ting 52 yards on seven tries. All told, the ’Hawks av­er­aged over 11 yards a carry on 32 at­tempts.

Busey con­nected with Ralph three times for 63 yards, with two of his passes go­ing to Rains for 18 yards, along with his early 7-yard pass to Blair.

Reyes led all tack­lers with nine stops, with War­den and Adam Tram­mel com­ing up with eight each. Conrad had six tack­les with Rhine, Brewer and Arnoldo Ras­con adding five each.

Pea Ridge piled up 467 yards com­pared to Gravette’s 203 to­tal. The Black­hawks stayed on top of the 4A-1 District tied with Shiloh with 3-0 con­fer­ence marks. Gravette dropped to 0-3 in the league to drop into a three-way tie for sixth along with Green For­est and Ber­ryville.

The ’Hawks will now travel the Prairie Grove Tigers to play an im­por­tant con­fer­ence game Fri­day on the road.

The ’Hawks have only beaten the Tigers twice all-time in Wash­ing­ton County, but Pea Ridge is fa­vored to win. The Tigers suf­fered a large num­ber of turnovers to get beaten 56-14 last week at Shiloh. The proud peren­nial con­tenders will be hop­ing to keep their con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship hopes alive and a tough game will be ex­pected.

Pho­to­graphs cour­tesy of Stephanie Har­well

Black­hawk ju­nior Luis Reyes (No. 19) led all tack­lers with nine stops in the con­test Fri­day against the Gravette Lions in Gravette.

Two of quar­ter­back Tate Busey’s passes went to Hunter Rains (No. 11) for 18 yards.

Black­hawk quar­ter­back Tate Busey (No. 4) has firmly es­tab­lished him­self as a dual threat play with the ju­nior field gen­eral rush­ing for 182 yards on just eight car­ries, while pass­ing for 88 more on seven of 14 at­tempts. He scored twice on the ground, and twice more through the air dur­ing Fri­day night’s game at Gravette.

Pho­to­graphs cour­tesy of Stephanie Har­well

A Tate Busey pass to a streak­ing Bray­den Ralph (No. 88) earned a touch­down when Ralph crossed the goal line from 15 yards out with 9:35 left in the first quar­ter. Busey con­nected with Ralph three times for 63 yards Fri­day.

The Black­hawks got the game off to a sen­sa­tional start af­ter Gravette took the open­ing kick­off. The first Lion play was a deep pass to their top re­ceiver, with the ’Hawks de­fender Car­son Rhine (No. 10) knock­ing the ball loose, then snatch­ing the loose pigskin out of the air be­fore fall­ing to the turf with the in­ter­cep­tion. Rhine got 52 yards on seven tries Fri­day night.

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