Up­set Bid Un­suc­cess­ful

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - NEWS - Mark Humphrey Game Jour­nal

Pea Ridge was ripe for an up­set, but Lin­coln failed to con­tain the quar­ter­back on fourth-and-two al­low­ing the Black­hawks to over­come Wolf dom­i­nance in the first quar­ter.

Think­ing among Pea Ridge fans was “Lin­coln’s 4-0 start and road trip to Black­hawk Sta­dium of­fered the Wolves a chance to see how good they are. While ac­knowl­edg­ing Lin­coln came in with a bet­ter record than Pea Ridge’s 2-2 start, crit­ics pointed to the Wolves’ sched­ule, calling it the weak­est among all of Arkansas 4A teams; and claim­ing the Wolves had yet to be re­ally tested in spite of their win over Gravette.

Ac­cord­ing to Pea Ridge coach Stephen Neal, on film, at least, Lin­coln ap­peared big­ger and more ath­letic this year. Neal de­scribed Lin­coln quar­ter­back Caleb Lloyd as shifty and throw­ing a good ball. Lloyd came into Fri­day’s con­test hav­ing com­pleted 51 of 91 passes for a 56 per­cent com­ple­tion rate with 8 touch­downs and no in­ter­cep­tions.

Need­less to say, Lin­coln’s phi­los­o­phy didn’t ex­actly echo those sen­ti­ments.

“We look at every game as a win to the point of we think we can com­pete and win in every game,” said Lin­coln coach Don Har­ri­son de­scrib­ing the Wolves’ phi­los­o­phy dur­ing pre­sea­son.

From the Wolves’ point-of-view, Pea Ridge’s 42-0 shutout of Farm­ing­ton in week three might have been an anom­aly. The Cardinals could not have pos­si­bly per­formed any worse than they did with crit­i­cal mis­takes in key sit­u­a­tions play­ing right into Pea Ridge’s hands. In ad­di­tion, three Pea Ridge play­ers had to sit out Fri­day’s con­test against Lin­coln for dis­ci­plinary rea­sons af­ter get­ting into a scuf­fle with Gen­try.

All of this pro­vided a recipe Lin­coln hoped would bring suc­cess. The Wolves pre­ferred to come in as the un­der­dog. Yet, 24 unan­swered Black­hawk points erased an early 7-0 Lin­coln lead and gave Pea Ridge a 24-14 Home­com­ing win over the Wolves Fri­day. Pea Ridge quar­ter­back Tate Busey trig­gered the swing in mo­men­tum. Busey com­pleted 10-of-20 passes for 208 yards and touch­downs. The Wolves in­ter­cepted him three times.

Pea Ridge dom­i­nated the se­cond half sta­tis­ti­cally, out­gain­ing the Wolves 219 to 80 in to­tal of­fense. Pea Ridge fin­ished with a 312-182 ad­van­tage in yards from scrim­mage, but the con­test didn’t start out that way.

Lin­coln’s de­fen­sive unit was all over the Black­hawks in the first pe­riod hold­ing Pea Ridge to five yards on the first three pos­ses­sions. Lin­coln got its of­fense go­ing the se­cond time the Wolves had the ball be­hind the pass­ing of Lloyd, who pol­ished off a time-con­sum­ing, 15-play drive with a 1-yard touch­down run. Noe Avel­landa kicked the P.A.T. and the Wolves owned a 7-0 ad­van­tage inside two min­utes to play in the first.

Lin­coln held Samuel Beard in check on three con­sec­u­tive runs and Pea Ridge set up in punt for­ma­tion on fourth-and-three at Lin­coln’s 45-yard-line mid­way in the se­cond quar­ter. Busey, who also serves as Pea Ridge’s punter, ran for three yards to con­vert fourt­hand-two.

The play de­mor­al­ized Lin­coln and re­ju­ve­nated Pea Ridge. The Black­hawks con­verted two third­downs and Busey capped the drive

“We look at every game as a win to the point of we think we can com­pete and win in every game.”

Don Har­ri­son Lin­coln coach

with a 4-yard touch­down. Luis Reyes’ P.A.T. kick tied the score at 7-7, which was still on the score­board at half­time.

A costly turnover ended Lin­coln’s first pos­ses­sion of the third quar­ter. Car­son Rhine’s pick gave Pea Ridge the ball on their own 33. A short pass from Busey to Pay­ton Gal­braith con­verted a third down and went 36 yards to the Lin­coln 31. Pea Ridge reached the Lin­coln 17 be­fore the Wolves held on three runs set­ting up Reyes’ 34-yard field goal which pushed Pea Ridge into a 10-7 lead.

Lin­coln punted away its next pos­ses­sion and Pea Ridge took over at the Wolves’ 44. The Black­hawks faced fourth-and-3, but got off the hook as Lin­coln sur­ren­dered a 37-yard touch­down pass from Busey to Bray­den Ralph with 5:19 to go in the third. The score put Pea Ridge up 17-7.

Lin­coln tried to an­swer with Lloyd find­ing four dif­fer­ent re­ceivers to move the ball to the Pea Ridge 30-yard-line. The drive stalled with yet an­other sack. On fourth-and-3, Rhine’s in­ter­cep­tion in front of the goal line and 29-yard re­turn to the 30 flipped the field. Pea Ridge mounted a 70-yard march to open up a 24-7 lead on Busey’s pass to Gal­braith.

Lin­coln’s of­fense had a rough start to the fourth quar­ter, but on fourth-and-15 Lloyd’s punt sailed 58 yards, pin­ning the Black­hawks at their own 18. Lin­coln got a turnover with an in­ter­cep­tion. The Wolves sent out their of­fense at the Pea Ridge 27. Lin­coln found pay dirt on a 24-yard touch­down pass from Lloyd to Ster­ling Mor­phis. Hunter Phe­lan kicked the point af­ter pulling Lin­coln within two scores, at 24-14, with 8:31 re­main­ing.

The teams ex­changed punts and Lin­coln got the ball back af­ter forc­ing a Pea Ridge punt with 2:35 left in the fourth.

Lloyd was on tar­get pass­ing to Phe­lan and Mor­phis, then mixed in a pair of quar­ter­back keep­ers as Lin­coln ad­vanced to the Black­hawk 32. Pea Ridge sacked Lloyd twice to set up an ex­tremely chal­leng­ing fourth and 32, then sacked him again to seal the game.

Lin­coln cel­e­brates Home­com­ing this week with the cer­e­mony sched­uled for 6:30 p.m. Fri­day at Wolf­pack Sta­dium fol­lowed by a 7 p.m. kick­off as the Wolves take on Ber­ryville.

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