Mohawks Fall in Home Opener

Thursday, September 26, 2013
Mohawk quarterback Austin Murray weaves through the Patriot line for a big gain Friday night

It was a tough home-opener for the Mohawks Friday night at Parker Field in Piggott, as the Tribe fell to the visiting Palestine-Wheatley Patriots, 14-12, on a dreary, drizzly night.

A late rally fell just shy for Piggott in the final minutes of the contest. Trailing 14-12 with just under two minutes remaining in the game, the Mohawks looked to have caught a break as the Patriots' punt attempt broke down on the field, forcing the kicker to try to run the ball on fourth and long. The Tribe stopped the play at the Palestine-Wheatley 35-yard-line, energizing the Mohawks and their fans. Bradley Stephens carried the ball on back-to-back plays, gaining four and 11 yards, respectively, and managing to run out of bounds to conserve precious seconds. With 1:33 left on the clock, Nick Haywood rattled through the middle to the 10-yard-line to set up second down and inches. Haywood's number was called again, with the hard-running back pounding his way to the two-yard-line to make it first and goal for the Mohawks. Heartbreak emerged on the next play, as the ball fell loosely to the ground on a rushing attempt up the gut. The visiting Patriots secured the football at the Palestine-Wheatley four-yard-line, halting the Mohawk drive and effectively ending the game. The visitors ran two plays to burn out the remaining time on the clock.

Four turnovers hurt the Mohawks on the night, with an early fumble and the aforementioned late-game fumble doing the most damage. Piggott lost three fumbles and had an interception on the night. The Patriots lost two fumbles in the contest.

"We can't turn the ball over like that and expect to win," Mohawk head coach Dave Hendrix said. "We just can't shoot ourselves in the foot like that."

Piggott received the ball to start the contest, and began their first drive at the Patriot 48-yard-line. The snap was fumbled on the first play of the drive, turning the ball over to Palestine-Wheatley's Devonte Jordan moved the ball quickly for the visitors, capping the possession with an 11-yard touchdown run with 8:15 left in the quarter. The Patriots connected on a short pass to convert the try for two more points, taking an 8-0 lead.

The Mohawks made their way onto the board in the second quarter. Eli Smith capped off a 78-yard, 15-play drive with a four-yard carry for the touchdown with 1:08 remaining in the first half. The tribe went for two points to tie, but the run was stopped. Piggott trailed 8-6. John Daniel Beck recovered a Patriot fumble at the Mohawk 22-yard-line to give the home team the ball and begin the scoring drive.

The visitors started off strong in the second half, returning the opening pooch kick to the Piggott 30-yard-line. Jordan would cross the goal line again for the Patriots just two plays after the kickoff, streaking in from 26 yards out with 11:05 left in the third frame. The Mohawks stopped the run on the conversion attempt, remaining one score behind, 14-6.

Piggott punted on their following possession, but forced Palestine-Wheatley to turn the ball over on downs at the Patriot 44-yard-line. Haywood carried the ball for a 24-yard gain on the first play of the Tribe's drive. Quarterback Austin Murray followed with a 23-yard keeper to set up first and goal at the nine-yard-line. Stephens punched the ball in with a nine-yard sweep, weaving his way past defenders for the Mohawk touchdown with 5:11 left in the third. The run was halted on the two-point conversion, with Piggott closing to within two, 14-12.

The Mohawks finished the night with 278 total yards of offense. Palestine-Wheatley had 273 yards of offense in the game.

Murray led the Piggott running game with 77 yards on 10 carries. Haywood netted 72 yards on 15 carries. Stephens scored a touchdown and gained 47 yards on 12 attempts. Nick McKinnie ran the ball seven times for 40 yards. Landon Williams gained 25 yards on five carries. Eli Smith scored a touchdown and had three yards on two carries.

Jordan had both touchdowns for the Patriots, gaining 171 yards on 18 carries.

Piggott fell to 0-2-1 on the season with the loss. The Mohawks are looking to turn their early fortunes around this Friday, as they host the Manila Lions for homecoming. The game will begin at 7 p.m. with homecoming festivities taking place prior to kickoff.

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