Mohawks Power Past Bulldogs

Thursday, September 18, 2014
Leaving a Bulldog defender grabbing for air, Nick McKinnie heads for the end zone in Friday night's Mohawk win over Portageville.

The Piggott Mohawk notched their first win of the season Friday night, beating the Portageville Bulldogs 30-21 at Parker Field. The victory, the first under new head football coach Michael Harrell, was a sweet one as the Tribe battled back from a second half deficit to post the non-conference win.

With a large crowd on hand for the home opener, the Bulldogs won the coin toss but deferred to the second half. This gave the Tribe first shot at scoring, but the initial drive ended a short time later as the Mohawks fumbled the ball away.

This set up the Bulldogs first score, which came with 8:42 to go in the first quarter as Daniel McCray took it in from three yards out. The PAT was good, and Portageville led 7-0.

Moments later Piggott's Nick McKinnie made a shoestring catch of a pass from Logan Dixon, and then took it 36 yards through Bulldog defenders to paydirt. On the point after attempt the Mohawks lined up for a PAT, but a Bulldog penalty gave them half the distance to the goal and the Tribe capitalized with Bret Fuller carrying it in for two. This gave the Mohawks the lead 8-7.

That score stood until the last minute of the first half, as McCray once again got the nod for Portageville and scored from two yards out. Quarterback Jon Garrett Kellums then hit Ian Torrey on a jump pass for the two point conversion, and the score stood at 15-8 at the break.

The Mohawks kicked-off to the Bulldogs to begin the second half, and Portageville's Mario Reed was injured on the play. He was removed from the field by the local ambulance crew, but was later transported to Portageville to be x-rayed. Early indications were the freshman lineman had broken a bone in his leg.

After the injury delay the two teams got back to action, but the Portageville drive stalled when the Mohawk defense stepped-up the pressure. A sack of the quarterback by Piggott's Jon Morgan, and a big tackle by Caleb Welborn forced the Bulldogs into a fourth and long situation. Portageville then looked to Kellums on the halfback pass, but he was tackled by Welborn and the ball went over on downs.

This set up a strong drive by the Mohawks behind the running of Landon Williams and Bradley Stephens, but the Tribe was forced to punt it away with 9:36 in the third. The defense once again rose to the occasion on that drive, as Welborn picked-off a Kellums pass, only to fumble it into the hands of Piggott's Bryan Samples.

But the Mohawk celebration was short-lived, as the Bulldogs blocked a Piggott punt with 7:38 to go in the third quarter and Cameron West carried it in from a yard out for the touchdown. This time the Bulldog two point conversion was good, and the visitors enjoyed a 21-8 lead.

Down the stretch the conditioning of the Mohawks, and the result of their physical style of play, began to take its toll on the Bulldogs. Dominating on both sides of the football, they ground out three straight scoring drives to take the win.

The next touchdown came with 3:42 to go in the third quarter as Bradley Stephens caught a Dixon pass and took it in from 11 yards out, although the two point conversion was no good.

In the fourth quarter the Mohawks continued to chip away at their visitors, and finally took the lead with 8:59 to play as Williams scored for the Tribe. He also added the two point conversion, and the Mohawks took a 22-21 lead.

They would continue to hold the Bulldogs offense at bay, though, and would score for the final time with 5:15 to play as Williams took it in from four yards out. The talented junior again added the two point conversion, and the final score was set at 30-21.

"I just can't say enough about the character of this senior high team, their attitudes are just awesome," Harrell said of his team. "They come to work every day. The come in mornings and lift weights before school and then they'll come in after school and work out. These guys are just tough as nails, and they work so hard."

Statistically the Mohawks led all categories, amassing 279 yards in total offense to 266 for the talented Bulldogs. But, for Coach Harrell the play of the defense was the difference. "The thing I'm most proud about is our defense, it was a "bend but don't break defense" and although we'd give up a few plays we really responded when they got inside the 10."

Harrell pointed to the play of Trace Stallings, Eli Smith, Aaron and Michael Massey and Bryan Samples as the difference. "And, our defensive backs played really well, we had some good open field tackling this week and it was just a great team performance."

Leading the offense was Landon Williams with 112 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns, while Stephens finished with 65 yards on 17 carries and Fuller had 13 yards on two. McCray was the top gainer for the Bulldogs with 107 yards on 20 carries and both Portageville TD's. Meanwhile, Piggott quarterback Logan Dixon was 7 for 17 for 81 yards and two touchdowns.

As far as defense, Stallings had 10 tackles, two for losses, while Fuller had 7 tackles, two for losses, and one fumble forced, one fumble recovered and a blocked punt. McKinnie also had 7 tackles, while Michael Massey and Caleb Welborn finished with four each and Bryan Samples had three tackles and a fumble recovery.

"You know, when we got down 21-8 in the third quarter after that blocked punt it would have been really easy just to lay down, to fold it up and go home," Harrell noted. "But they didn't, they just went back to work and kept plugging away."

But, for the first year head coach, and former Mohawk player, the victory was a special one. "It feels good to get that first win, especially with a hometown boy like me I know the expectations are high. But, I have high expectations myself," he explained. "And, this is a big win against Portageville, they've got a good football team."

With the win the Tribe moves to 1-1 and are idle this week. "We just need to keep improving," Harrell added. "We've got this week off and it makes me sick cause I'd love to be playing Friday night, but we'll take this week to prepare for Osceola and take some looks at Rivercrest."

The Mohawks will begin 3A-3 conference play next Friday, Sept. 26, as they visit the Seminole. "I think Osceola could be ripe for the picking," Harrell explained. "They're 0-2 and playing Hazen this week at home, so we'll go down and watch them. If they come into conference play at 0-3 I don't see any reason why we can't go in there next week and get us a win and shake up the conference a bit."

Kickoff at Osceola is set for 7 p.m. next Friday night as the Tribe begins conference play.

When it got to 21-8 in the third quarter after that blocked punt it would have been really easy just to lay down--just to fold it up and go home, but they didn't. They went back to work and just kept plugging away.

Even though we're running a spread offense we're still running power football, and Landon Williams and Bradley Stephens ran the ball hard and I thought our offensive line did a good job blocking downfield.

We're starting to catch some passes, you know we're running this new offense but we're still dropping some balls. Once we get to where we can catch the ball on a consistent basis it's really going to open up this offense.

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