Ju­nior Tigers Out­last Elkins, 34-26, Oct. 18

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - SPORTS - By Mark Humphrey

PRAIRIE GROVE — De­spite play­ing with­out star half­back Ethan Miller, Prairie Grove’s of­fense showed no sign of slow­ing down in outscor­ing Elkins 34-26 in a game that went down to the wire.

“That was a big one for us, our guys stepped up. Kameron Gos­nell came in and ran at half­back and did a good job,” said Prairie Grove head ju­nior high coach John El­der. “Other guys stepped up dur­ing the week in prac­tice for him and on de­fense, Rhett (Mar­rell) did a good job of tak­ing his spot. We had guys step up and take his spot, and that helped a lot. That was good.”

Asher Sam, who El­der said has re­ally come on this year, had some big runs to pick up crit­i­cal first downs to keep drives alive. Gos­nell scored on a 4-yard sweep in the first half.

The Thurs­day, Oct. 18, 2018, con­test fit the “must­win” cat­e­gory — that is, if the ju­nior Tigers were in­ter­ested in earn­ing a shot at the con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship that will pit the top teams from a divi­sion that in­cludes Prairie Grove, Elkins, Gen­try, Gravette and Lin­coln with Ber­ryville, Green For­est, Huntsville, Pea Ridge and Shiloh Chris­tian also lumped in. The two teams, which fin­ish first on each side of the league, earned the right to play for the 4A-1 league ti­tle in week 10.

Green For­est, which has strug­gled to com­pete at the var­sity level, has a tough ju­nior high squad win­ning its first six games of the sea­son, in­clud­ing a 32-0 road win at Elkins last week, the third con­sec­u­tive shutout posted by the Green For­est ju­nior Tigers. Green For­est de­feated Ber­ryville 30-0, Huntsville 22-0, and West Fork 42-14. They have a ca­pa­ble quar­ter­back in Devon DiVall and a trio of run­ners in Bryan Soto, Bar­rett Phillips and Jake Lopez. Phillips and Soto can also catch the ball. Against Ber­ryville, Green For­est pulled off a dou­ble-pass with Ash­ton Grun­wald throw­ing to Phillips for 70 yards on the first play of the game.

Elkins demon­strated a pro­fi­ciency for pass­ing and catch­ing the foot­ball com­plet­ing a num­ber of deep throws. Elkins scored on a 2-yard quar­ter­back sneak after a big catch was made to get the Elks close.

“They’re throw­ing the ball well,” said as­sis­tant coach Nike Paroubek. “They caught our cor­ner­backs sleep­ing a cou­ple of times.”

Prairie Grove coun­tered with some play-ac­tion passes of its own with quar­ter­back Paytin Hig­gins throw­ing a pair of long first half touch­down passes, one of bet­ter than 50 yards and other of a 40-yard va­ri­ety, to Lan­don Sem­rad.

“They were up to stop the run big time and some­times when teams do that, the play-ac­tion pass opens up big and it did tonight,” El­der said.

Prairie Grove led 21-14 at half­time with Elkins re­ceiv­ing the sec­ond half kick­off. The Elks got a good run­back and started from their own 37. Elkins scored on fourth-and-six from the ju­nior Tiger 46 with Elkins quar­ter­back Bernard find­ing Rhoda for the score. A high snap messed up the 2-point con­ver­sion at­tempt, but Elkins was within, 21-20.

Mar­rell re­cov­ered an on­side kick giv­ing Prairie Grove good field pos­ses­sion at its own 41. Gos­nell car­ried the ball for 24 and 20 yards. Sam gained 7 in­side and Hig­gins fin­ished off the drive by cut­ting in­side on a 4-yard quar­ter­back keeper to find pay­dirt. The holder bob­bled the snap and at­tempted a pass that was in­ter­cepted by Elkins foil­ing the ex­tra-point leav­ing Prairie Grove with a 27-20 lead.

That score re­mained the mar­gin as the fourth quar­ter be­gan. The teams traded turnovers on downs and Elkins cap­i­tal­ized on a short field march­ing 51 yards in 5 plays to punch the ball in for a touch­down on an­other quar­ter­back sneak. Davis Stephens sniffed out a re­verse on the con­ver­sion at­tempt pre­serv­ing a 27-26 lead for Prairie Grove with 5:36 left in the con­test.

On sec­ond and 10, Hig­gins threw on tar­get to Sem­rad break­ing alone in the se­condary. He out­ran all 11 men on the field for Elkins to com­plete a 77-yard touch­down pass play. Hig­gins kicked the point-after and Prairie Grove ex­tended the lead to 34-28 at the 5:27 mark.

Elkins had plenty of time and they made a game of it con­vert­ing two third-downs de­spite sacks by Erick Bartholomew, and Cooper Sin­gle­ton. Elkins com­pleted a 49-yard pass to the ju­nior Tiger 11 with 1:36 re­main­ing. Ry­der Orr and John King com­bined for a sack, then the ju­nior Tigers shut the gate on quar­ter­back keeper bring­ing up sec­ond-and-13 for Elkins from Prairie Grove’s 16. Hig­gins tack­led a re­ceiver after a 6-yard gain bring­ing up fourth-and-9. Sem­rad bat­ted down a pass to end the threat.

“Pay­ton made some good tack­les com­ing down­hill from the safety spot,” El­der said. “Erick Bartholomew did well on that, (got to) keep him go­ing on the line there. He’s do­ing a good job.”

MARK HUMPHREY EN­TER­PRISE-LEADER

Prairie Grove half­back Kameron Gos­nell ac­cel­er­ates down­field after turn­ing the cor­ner. Gos­nell scored a 4-yard rush­ing touch­down in the first half and had car­ries of 24 and 20 yards dur­ing a key late-game drive. Prairie Grove held off Elkins, 34-26, on Oct. 18.

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