Tigers Searching For Consistency
DARDANELLE HANDS PRAIRIE GROVE WORST HOME LOSS IN 35 GAMES
PRAIRIE GROVE — When lightning strikes the impact either energizes or demoralizes a team.
Things didn’t bode well for Prairie Grove, which held an early 7-0 lead Friday after lightning caused a 30-minute delay with 1:45 left in the first quarter. Dardanelle’s offense took the field after play once more got underway scoring two touchdowns to take a 14-7 halftime lead on the way to handing Prairie Grove a 35-17 nonconference loss.
Prior to that Prairie Grove held the Sandlizards.
“It’s like we’re playing very well, then we just forget about what we’re doing,” said Prairie Grove coach Danny Abshier, lamenting the defensive letdown.
Abshier is looking for more consistency all the way around. The Tiger offense was unproductive at times, especially in the third quarter when other backs were subbed in to carry the ball giving Garrett Heltemes a breather. Heltemes went over 100 yards rushing for the second straight game averaging 10 yards-per-run on 14 carries.
“He’s extremely durable,” Abshier said. “He’s about the only thing we can get going right now. We run something and he makes it happen.”
Heltemes scored the first touchdown of the game on a 30-yard run
at the 3:25 mark of the first to cap a 99-yard drive after Dardanelle’s place-kick style punt rolled dead at the Tiger one. Wingback James Millwood churned out a 46-yard carry on the 9-play drive.
Then came the lightning break and Prairie Grove suffered a letdown. There were 26 penalties called, which slowed the game already delayed by lightning. Both teams had more than 100 yards marked off in penalties, and the Tigers could not sustain drives due to all the flags. Prairie Grove managed a mere 43 yards in the second quarter.
In the third quarter a drive stalled, but Prairie Grove sent out the field goal unit and Cade Walker converted from 30 yards out to trim the score to 14-10 at the 7:48 mark. The Tigers would get no closer. Sandlizard junior quarterback Joran Metcalf completed 9-of-18 passes with two touchdowns, and ran 12 times for 93 yards and a pair of scores on the ground. The Sandlizards outgained Prairie Grove 333 to 325 in total offense. Dardanelle held an 183 to 58 advantage in passing yardage. Metcalf connected with Sam Williams on a pair of deep passes, including a 49-yard touchdown to put the Sandlizards ahead, 28-10.
Prairie Grove senior quarterback Ethan Scates was 2-for12 for 58 yards passing before leaving with an injury in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback senior Ethan Guenther (6-0, 230) handed off to Heltemes, who rambled 67 yards to the Sandlizard 14. The 4-play, 81-yard drive culminated in Millwood’s 13-yard touchdown run. Walker’s extra-point kick accounted for the 35-17 final.
The Tigers (0-2) suffered their worst regular season home loss since a 40-14 setback to Cassville, Mo., on Sept. 9, 2011. The last Arkansas team to win by three touchdowns at Tiger Den Stadium was Gravette in the regular season finale, a 35-14 defeat of the Tigers on Nov. 5, 2010. The Lions went 9-2 that year, which was the last time Prairie Grove missed the playoffs.
For trivia buffs — that’s an impressive streak of 35 home field regular season games going back to the 26-point loss to Cassville, Mo., and 37 games dating back to a 21-point loss to Gravette.
Prairie Grove sophomore Cade Grant broke up this Dardanelle pass. The Tigers were beaten 35-17 by the Sandlizards Friday, leaving Prairie Grove still searching for its first football win of the 2018 season.