Turnover Bug Bites Tribe as They Fall to Osceola

Thursday, October 2, 2014
Piggott's Bradley Stephens looks to turn the corner for positive yardage in the Mohawk's home game Friday night.

The visiting Osceola Seminole scored on three Mohawk turnovers Friday night, as they posted a 34-8 conference win at Parker Field. This Friday the Tribe will look to rebound, as they visit the Rivercrest Colts.

With a large, but rather docile, crowd in attendance the Mohawks greeted the 0-3 Seminole. Coming off their 30-21 win over Portageville, and a bye week, the Tribe hoped for an upset. And, until the waning moments of the first half it appeared the Mohawks were in the hunt.

The Seminole won the coin toss and chose to receive the opening kick-off, and marched to near mid-field, only to have Piggott's Caleb Welborn pick-off a pass deep in Mohawk territory.

But, the Tribe also had trouble moving the football early and was forced to punt. This set up the first Osceola score, as Tevin James caught a pass from Traelon Woodson and ran it 20 yards for the touchdown. But, the extra point attempt was no good, giving Osceola a 6-0 lead.

Throughout the remainder of the first half neither team could mount a drive, as both were hampered by the penalty flag and turnovers.

Late in the second quarter the Piggott offense began to put together a drive, but that ended as quarterback Logan Dixon was picked-off on a screen pass by Osceola lineman Tavion Bass who then carried it 60 yards for a touchdown. Once again the conversion attempt was no good, as the Seminole took a 12-0 lead into the locker room.

The Mohawks came out strong in the third quarter, and marched downfield thanks to several good plays and a roughing the passer call on the Seminole. But, the Osceola defense once again rose to the occasion as James picked-off a Dixon pass and carried it 68 yards for another TD. This time the two point conversion pass was good and the Seminole lead stood at 20-0 with 10:44 to go in the third.

The following Piggott drive also stalled thanks to strong defensive play by Osceola, setting up the James' third touchdown of the day. That came on a 14 yard pass play, and this time the two point conversion attempt by Brendon Parker was good making it a 28-0 score mid-way through the third.

As the third quarter drew to a close the Mohawks would turn the ball over once again, as Bradley Stephens coughed it up on a sweep. The senior running back would also leave the game at that point with bruised ribs, but is expected to be 100 percent this week.

Mid-way through the fourth the Mohawks mounted their only scoring drive behind the running of Landon Williams. The sturdy back literally carried the offense downfield, scoring from five yards out at the 6:50 mark. Williams also notched the two-point conversion, setting the score at 28-8.

Osceola would score once more, as James picked-up a Piggott screen pass from Dixon to Nick McKinnie which was ruled a fumble and took it in for a touchdown. The Mohawk's Bret Fuller blocked the PAT attempt, and the final score was set at 34-8.

"You take away those three turnovers, two pick sixes and the fumble in the end zone and it's a 12-8 ballgame," Coach Michael Harrell said of the loss. "And you get us into the fourth quarter in a 12-8 ballgame and we've got a chance to win it. We felt like we let one get away from us, we still think of ourselves as one of the top four teams in the conference and we just let one get away from us."

On the game the Mohawks had 177 yards on the ground and 221 in total offense, while the Seminole had 173 yards rushing, and 222 yards in total offense--illustrating the importance of the Piggott turnovers.

"We just shot ourselves in the foot. You know, we've been at this like eight or nine weeks, but it is a process and it's going to take time," Harrell surmised. "And I need mature some and to be more patient as a play-caller. You know it was 6-0 right there before the half, and we've been working on that little back screen. I saw the linebackers coming and I got a little greedy, and they picked it off and ran it back for a touchdown."

Harrell noted the interception, along with the one early in the third quarter were, "back breakers."

On the bright side, the Piggott defense continues to play strong much to Harrell's delight, "on the other hand, our defense is doing great-those kids are just playing their hearts out," he noted. "Our defense just gave up two touchdowns--in fact, I think our offense has given up five touchdowns in the last two games and our defense has only given up four."

For the first year head coach the formula for success is simple, "right now we just have to get back to what we do best, we can't just jump in that spread offense all the time. It's a work in progress, and it takes time," he explained. "It's going to take more than just eight or nine weeks to learn this new system and I have to learn to be patient."

He added in an effort to help he's worked to simplify many of the schemes. "We've tried to do some things this week to straighten things out," he explained. "I've asked a lot of my guys, a lot of my quarterback and I'm trying to keep from putting them in those situations."

Williams led all rushers with 110 yards on 24 carries while Dixon was 4 for 10 for 48 yards through the air for the Mohawks. James led the Seminole with 15 carries for 73 yards.

With the loss the Mohawks fall to 1-2 overall and 0-1 in 3A-3 conference play while Osceola moves to 1-3 and 1-0.

The Mohawks will be on the road this Friday as they travel to Wilson and take on the Rivercrest Colts. Last week the Colts hosted Corning and posted a 47-30 win over the Bobcats.

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