Field Goal Gives Ju­nior Tigers Foot­ball Vic­tory

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

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

14-28

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

MARK HUMPHREY EN­TER­PRISE-LEADER

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.

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