Gentry comes up short to Greenland in high-scoring tilt
Faulkenberry scores seven TDs in Pioneer loss
GREENLAND — The guy firing the celebratory cannon had to stay on highalert at Greenland Stadium on Friday night. It has been a long-standing tradition that the small mounted artillery at the southwest corner of the field be fired after each Pirates touchdown.
By the end of the night, 11 loud pops echoed through the warm night air as Greenland and Gentry put on a near-record offensive showcase in the nonconference clash. The Pirates pulled an old hook-and-lateral play out of the bag late to win it in regulation by a wild score of 76-71.
It was the most combined points scored in a regulation high school football game ever in Northwest Arkansas, and the secondmost ever between two Arkansas prep teams. Only Fountain Lake’s 88-66 victory over Hot Springs Lakeside in 2008 produced more total points. Nashville beat Idabel, Okla., last season 91-63.
The Pirates and Pioneers combined for 1,093 yards of total offense, with Greenland racking up 602 of those — 358 on the ground and 244 through the air.
“I’ve never been a part of anything quite like that before,” said Greenland coach Lee Larkan, who has been coaching for 28 years, including the last 17 with the Pirates. “When I was an assistant, I think I was part of a 6- or 7-overtime game one time that got into the 50s. And I thought that was quite a bit.”
Both offenses hit stride early, blazing to a 21-21 deadlock in the first quarter. After Gentry (2-1) took a 28-21 lead with 10 minutes, 37 seconds to play in the first half, Greenland put 28 unanswered points on the board in a span of 8:38, roaring to a 49-35 lead at the intermission.
“Going into the game, we thought we would have to score in the 40s to win,” Larkan said with a chuckle. “We didn’t know we would have to have that at the half.”
Senior quarterback Jon Faulkenberry kept Gentry on the move all night long, throwing for two touchdowns and running for seven more. He carried the ball 23 times for 169 yards. That didn’t include TD runs of 68 and 51 yards that he had called back for holding penalties.
The Air Force Academy target has now accounted for 19 touchdowns this season in just 2½ games for the Pioneers.
Faulkenberry seemed to land the final knockout punch for Gentry when he scored from 15 yards out with 2:07 left in the game, pulling his team within 7069. The Pioneers decided to go for the lead instead of the tie, with a two-point conversion attempt. Faulkenberry again ran it in for a 71-70 lead.
The decision was a nobrainer for Pioneers thirdyear coach Paul Ernest.
“When Greenland went up 70-63 late in the fourth quarter, I told our guys that if they could just get us one more, we would go for two to try and win it,” said Ernest. “We were either going to win 71-70 or lose it 70-69.
“We just scored a little too quickly and gave them some time. They made a play right there at the end.”
Greenland (3-0) was down to a fourth-and-9 desperation play at its own 28 with less than two minutes on the clock. Senior quarterback Austin Anderson completed a short out route to Jonas Mackey, who then spun and pitched to a trailing Chandler Alaniz on a classic hook-and-lateral play. Alaniz then raced 67 yards to the Gentry 9. Hayden Stout then went around the left end for the game-winning touchdown to cap one of the wildest games in state history.
“We knew Faulkenberry was a great player and we would have to score quite a few points to win,” Anderson said. “At halftime, someone said, ‘We are going to have to score 80 to win this game,’ and it almost came to that.
“When we got back to the locker room after the game, some of us kind of teared up a little bit, because we were just so proud as a team to have kept fighting to the end and pull it out.”
Gentry quarterback Jon Faulkenberry runs the ball during a home game against Lavaca earlier in the season.