Mohawks Drop Road Contest at Marked Tree
The first game under new head football coach Michael Harrell was one of missed opportunities for the Piggott Mohawks, as the Tribe fell at Marked Tree 28-16 to start the season. "We're not where we want to be yet, but we're better than we were," Harrell said of his team's performance.
In what would be a foreshadow of things to come, the Mohawk's speedy running back Bradley Stephens took the opening kickoff deep into Indian territory to start the game, only to see the drive fail in the red zone. In fact, the Tribe got the football inside the 10 yard line of Marked Tree four times on the game, without putting points up on the board prompting Harrell to note, "we really had some great opportunities."
Both teams had trouble moving the ball early in the contest, and both suffered from the penalty flag. As a result neither team could put together a sustained drive in the first quarter of play. But, the Indians drew first blood fairly early in the second quarter, as Cam Mitchell broke a 69 yard touchdown run with 11:35 to go in the first half. Marked Tree also notched the PAT, and led 7-0.
The Tribe once again had trouble moving the football, and with 5:01 to play to the halftime intermission Octavious Dean broke loose and carried the ball 41 yards for the second Indian touchdown. Once again the PAT was good, and the home team took a 14-0 lead into the locker room at the half.
The Marked Tree squad padded their lead about mid-way through the third quarter, as Tevin McGee scored from 14 yards out. The Indians once again added the PAT, and the score stood at 21-0.
The Tribe finally got on the scoreboard with 1:47 to go in the third quarter, as Stephens scampered in from 12 yards out. The two-point conversion was carried in by Landon Williams, and the score stood at 21-8.
But, the Indians weren't finished as they scored on a 48 yard touchdown pass reception by Bailey Gilbert with just 1:36 to play in the ballgame. The Marked Tree special teams again iced the PAT, and the Indians led 28-8.
Late in the contest the Mohawks would answer once again, as freshman standout Bret Fuller caught a five yard pass from Logan Dixon for the score. Dixon then carried-in the two-point conversion and the final score was set at 28-16.
"I saw a lot of positives, we played for a full 48 minutes and there were times in the past when we might have laid down, but we didn't," Harrell said of the contest. "We beat them in the second half, had plus three on turnovers and the defense played well, and I thought the special teams did a great job."
The Indians dominated on offense, racking up 435 yards in total offense to 252 for the Mohawks. Leading all rushers was Marked Tree's Mitchell with 139 yards on 12 carries and one touchdown.
Pacing the Mohawk's offense was Williams with 64 yards on 12 carries, while Stephens finished with 46 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown and Dixon had 34 yards on 13 carries. Dixon was also 10 of 23 passing for 111 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
"Landon Williams had a strong game, he's a great north and south runner, Bradley Stephens ran the ball well and Nick McKinnie had some great plays," he surmised. "And, I though Logan Dixon really threw the ball well. But, we need to improve our pass routes, and our blocking, but that will come."
Defensively the Mohawks were led by McKinnie with eight tackles, including two for losses and one fumble caused, while Eli Smith finished with seven tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery and Fuller had six tackles, including one for a loss.
"They beat us deep a couple of times, but these guys are still adapting to the zone--these kids have played man-to-man their whole lives," the first year coach observed. "But, we looked good and except for letting up on them on third down a couple of times we made some strong plays, we got several big defensive plays from Eli Smith."
In summarizing the contest Harrell noted a lack of game experience was evident. "I wish we had the chance to scrimmage," he explained. "Friday night was really the first time we got to see live action and that's where we need to improve--but, I know we can do it."
The Mohawks will also be without the services of Seth Lacey, who suffered both a hand and knee injury during the contest. According to his family on social media, the knee will only require rehabilitation, although he will likely have surgery to address the finger injury.
With the loss the Mohawks start their season at 0-1, as they are set to begin the home portion of the schedule this Friday, Sept. 12, as they host the Portageville Bulldogs in non-conference play. The following week the Tribe will be idle. The Bulldogs began their season with lopsided victories in weeks one and two, but were pounded by the Malden Green Wave this past Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Parker Field.