Field Goal Gives Junior Tigers Football Victory
PRAIRIE GROVE — Facing a “must-win” situation, Prairie Grove gave Gentry more chances than coach John Elder would have liked, but held on for an 11-8 win Oct. 25.
“Big win, you know, played Gentry, they were tough, had a really good runningback, huge quarterback,” Elder said. “Kind of like us, they ran it a bunch, tried to get up the middle. It was a battle.”
Nursing an 11-8 lead since Paytin Higgins’ field goal gave them the lead with 4.2 seconds left before halftime, Prairie Grove couldn’t cash in on a golden opportunity after a fumble recovery on Gentry’s first possession of the third quarter at the junior Pioneers’ 35.
Elder, sensing a chance to put the game away, went for it on fourth-and-two rather than kicking another field goal with the line of scrimmage at Gentry’s three. This time the junior Tigers came away empty.
That nearly came back to bite. In the fourth quarter, Prairie Grove forced the junior Pioneers to punt, but were flagged for roughing the kicker giving the junior Pioneers a first down at their own 25-yard-line.
Prairie Grove’s defense held and Gentry punted to the junior Tiger 39. Prairie Grove couldn’t pick up a first down but forced Gentry coach Daniel Ramsey to burn two timeouts. The snap went awry and the punter had to take off with the ball only to be tackled at the junior Tigers 36.
Gentry took over on downs and the junior Pioneers’ perceived opportunity to win the game.
Defense once rose to the occasion causing Ramsey to use his last time-out, looking at fourth-and-6 from the junior Tigers’ 32 with 57.4 seconds to go. A Gentry pass fell incomplete and possession reverted to Prairie Grove. The junior Tigers ran out the rest of the clock to hold on for an, 11-8, victory.
The junior Pioneers came into the game, which decided the 4A-1 No. 1 West seed with a 6-2 record, in their final game of the season before seed pairing.
The Pioneers received the ball to start the game, then picked up first downs to march to the end zone on their opening drive. Junior Pioneer eighth-grade quarterback Ty Hays threw a touchdown pass on fourthand-7 at Prairie Grove’s 15-yard line.
Gentry freshman William Pyburn ran the ball in for a 2-point conversion and with 2:43 left in the first quarter, the junior Pioneers led 8-0.
Prairie Grove got a break on the ensuing kickoff and started on offense from its own 47 yard line. The junior Tigers converted fourth-and-4 from Gentry’s 13 advancing the ball to the junior Pioneers’ 6. At the end of the first quarter, Gentry was still ahead 8-0 with Prairie Grove knocking on the door.
As the second quarter got underway, the junior Tigers faced fourth-and-goal at Gentry one. Halfback Ethan Miller ran the ball in for the touchdown, then ran again for a 2-point conversion to tie the game 8-8 at the 7:56 mark of the second period.
“We got a big pass play from Paytin Higgins to Landyn Washausen that got us down there in the red zone and then we were able to score,” Elder said.
Garrison Jackson punted away Gentry’s next possession getting off a good kick that traveled to the junior Tiger’s 20-yardline.
Prairie Grove couldn’t move the ball and a short punt placed the junior Pioneer offense at their own 48 yard line. The drive started well with Pyburn running 15 yards for a first down, but soon bogged down. On fourth-and-9 in Prairie Grove territory, Gentry ran a trick play but the junior Tigers didn’t buy it, and the ball turned over on downs.
In a flash the situation reversed. Now Prairie Grove was in business going on offense at its own 48. Higgins completed a deep pass to the junior Pioneer 7.
Gentry’s defense kept Prairie Grove out of the end zone so Elder called for the field goal unit on fourthand-goal. Higgins booted the game-winning kick with 4.2 seconds to go in the half.
“Paytin’s been kicking for us a couple of years now,” Elder said. “We started doing it last year. Coach Paroubek came up and said, ‘Hey, Higgins can kick. Let’s see if he (can make a field goal).’ We started doing it. Some other coaches were kind of laughing, saying, ‘Yeah, kicking junior high.’ But, by golly, he could do it. We can help hold it, snap and block so hey we started doing it and it was successful; and kind of carried over to this year.”
Elder said he likes having the field goal kicking capacity and hopes he can find someone else to kick next year and carry over that dimension of the game another season.
Neither team scored in the second half and the junior Tiger defense made the 3-point lead hold up, aided by a fumble recovery on Gentry’s first possession of the third quarter.
“The second half was just a battle and nobody scores, a defensive battle,” Elder said.
The loss dropped the junior Pioneers to 6-3 on the season. On Thursday, Nov. 1, the junior Pioneers No. 2 4A-1 West were matched up against Pea Ridge No. 2 4A-1 East in seed pairing.
2018 PRAIRIE GROVE JUNIOR HIGH
Date Opponent Time Aug. 30 at Farmington Loss 12-0
Sept. 6 at Dardanelle Loss N/A
Sept. 13 Pottsville Win 28-8
Sept. 20 at Lincoln* Win 35-0
Sept. 27 Shiloh Christian* Loss
Oct. 4 Gravette* Win 34-0 Oct. 11 at Pea Ridge* Win 28-20 Oct. 18 Elkins Win 34-26 Oct. 25 at Gentry* Win 11-8 Nov. 1 Shiloh Christian** Loss 14-21 * — 4A-1 Conference game
** — 4A-1 Conference
Prairie Grove eighth-grader Ethan Miller is fleet of foot. He broke several long touchdown runs while playing halfback throughout the 2018 junior high season.