Pine Bluff knocks off El Do­rado

El Dorado News-Times - - Sports - By Tony Burns Sports Edi­tor

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

13-9.

”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.”

Ter­rance Arm­stard/News-Times

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.

Jobe

Love

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