Pine Bluff knocks off El Dorado
El Dorado’s senior playmakers were on the sideline Friday night with injuries. Pine Bluff’s senior Berkarion Black, was on the field making plays.
Black’s 19-yard touchdown reception with 1:53 left to play gave the Zebras a 21-15 win in the first round of the 6A playoffs at Memorial Stadium. Black’s interception on the next play helped preserve the Pine Bluff victory.
“Hat’s off to Pine Bluff. They had a drive they had to have to win the game and they did it,” said El Dorado coach Scott Reed. “They made the plays that you have to make. But, I’m really pleased with our group for the way they fought in the second half.”
The Wildcats, who finished the season with a 5-6 record, played three quarterbacks - senior Wanya Frazier, who was a receiver two weeks ago, sophomore Eli Shepherd and freshman Sharmon Rester, who just moved up from the ninth grade team. El Dorado was also without its top three receivers.
The inexperience was glaring in the first half, which saw the Wildcats go without a first down and finish with negative-34 yards of offense.
Still, El Dorado trailed just 7-0 thanks to a strong effort from the defense and the punting of senior Derek Jobe.
The Wildcats picked up their initial first down on Frazier’s 36-yard pass to Trey Norman on the first play of the third quarter. But, disaster struck two plays later when Keonte Larry, fighting for extra yards, had the ball popped loose. Pine Bluff’s Colby Davis scooped it up and returned it 70 yards for the touchdown and a 13-0 lead with 10:58 left in the third.
That appeared to be all the cushion the Zebras would need as El Dorado went three plays and punt on its next two possessions. But, Jobe, who had
a 61-yard punt downed at the Pine Bluff 9 in the first half, boomed a 59-yard punt to the Zebras’ 1. On the next play, the Wildcats made a tackle in the end zone for a safety, cutting the lead to 13-2 with 5:50 left in the third.
“His punting tonight was incredible,” Reed said of Jobe. “It was awesome. He had a great night.”
After the ensuing kickoff, El Dorado took over at the 40. Larry broke loose for a 31-yard gain to the 9. Sophomore Jarmel Love entered the game, took the direct snap and ran for 1 and 7 before scoring on a 1-yard run. Greysen Hubbard hit the PAT with
4:05 left in the third to cut the deficit to
”We tried to find some- body that would get us going. I thought Jarmel Love got us going in the second half,” said Reed. “For his first start, I thought he was very productive.”
El Dorado’s defense forced a punt but Pine Bluff’s Treyvon Woodard recovered a Wildcat fumble at the EHS 26. Again, El Dorado’s defense was up to the challenge, stopping the Zebras a yard short on fourth-and-15.
The Wildcats continued to struggle on offense. But, defense and special teams kept them in the game. Jobe’s 50-yard punt was dead at the Pine Bluff 13. On third-and-7, Quentin Frazier sacked Shauwon Howell, forcing a fumble, which was recovered by Wanya Archie at the 5.
Love took the direct snap and headed up the middle, which was clogged. He bounced it outside, outran a defender to the corner and made a head-first dive into the end zone for the touchdown and a 15-13 advantage with 3:43 left in the game.
“I was, I won’t say shocked but, I had a little smile on my face when we
took the lead in the fourth quarter because at halftime I didn’t think there was any way we were going to score enough to do it,” Reed said.
The Zebras took over at the 19 with 3:31 left on the clock. They put together a 12-play drive, converting a pair of fourth downs. On fourth-and-2, Braylon Moody ran up the gut for 13. On fourthand-13, Howell hooked up with Kentrell Murry, who found room on an underneath pattern and ran for 32 yards to the El Dorado 24. An offsides penalty moved the ball to the 19. Two plays later, Howell threw a dart to Black, who snagged it in the back of the end zone between two Wildcats. Howell hit Isiah Mays for the 2-point conversion and a 21-15 lead with 1:53 left to play.
Black intercepted a pass on the next play but El Dorado’s defense made another stop with Jacoby Hankton recovering a fumble at the 47. Shepherd scrambled for 13 and Love had a 16-yard reception. But, the game ended when Shepherd’s Hail Mary toss was batted down well short of the end zone.
“Our kids just competed hard. It’s not good enough because we didn’t win. I’ve got a group that’s upset because we didn’t win,” said Reed. “But, there were a lot of guys out there that, at the start of the year, we wouldn’t have expected to play in a playoff game. They did some good things, too. I think our resiliency showed.
“I hate that the season is over. I enjoyed this group. For the most part, they’ve been really good. We challenged them this week. We did not have a starting receiver that could play. We were on our third quarterback and a sophomore
and a kid we moved up from the ninth grade. To go into the playoffs like that, our older guys, I’m going to take my hat off to them. They didn’t waver. They went to work. You could look around in that locker room and say, ‘He’s not here. He’s not going to play. He’s not going to play.’ A lot of people would say, we don’t have a chance. But, that wasn’t the way it was in our locker room this week. And, it wasn’t the way it was at practice. Even when things didn’t look good in the first half, it was all about getting it done in the second half. We didn’t get it done but we did have a chance. I’m proud of the way they played.”
El Dorado finished with just 123 yards in total offense, including a net of just 31 yards on the ground. That included 69 yards in losses. Pine Bluff managed 135 yards on the ground and completed 16-of-27 passes for 220 yards. Black had seven receptions for 108 yards and the touchdown.
For the Wildcats, Jobe had seven punts for an average of 45.8 yards. His last five punts went for 44, 61, 43, 59 and 50 yards.
Despite no first downs in the first half, El Dorado remained in a scoreless tie until the Zebras finished off a 91-yard drive with Howell’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Daedrion White with 18 seconds left in the half. In the drive, Pine Bluff converted third-and-10, third-and-7 and scored on third-and-9. Eddie Tee kicked the PAT.
When asked if the Wildcats had planned on using a ninth grade quarterback during the week, Reed said, “I would say this, we worked during the week in case we needed to. And, we played a ninth grader at safety in the first half - P.J. Denkins. He played really well. Those guys fit right in.
“We had a bunch of seniors do good things tonight. Mainly, they did good things in the locker room this week. They didn’t waver, which is awesome.”
Skip pass: Parkers Chapel's Hope Wooten passes the ball to a teammate Thursday against Nevada. The Lady Trojans fell 42-30. They will host Drew Central on Tuesday.