Mohawks Pound Corning for Rice Bowl Win
The Piggott Mohawks wrapped up their football season Thursday, Nov. 5, with a dominate road win over the Corning Bobcats. In recent years the season finale' between the two longtime rivals had bearing on the playoff picture, but this year the contest was purely for bragging rights.
"This is it, this is your state playoff game--your state championship game, give it all you've got," Coach Michael Harrell told his squad prior to kick-off. And, the Tribe responded with a 49-12 drubbing of their hosts to retain the coveted Rice Bowl trophy.
"To tell you the truth I don't care a bit about that trophy. It seems like the Corning people are more worried about that trophy, but to me and our program it's about pride. Pride in our family, pride in our football program and pride in our community," Harrell said of the rivalry. "But, I'm a Piggott boy and it is a big deal that we beat Corning seven out of the last eight years, but that 17 year losing streak we had with Corning still sits in the back of my mind every time I walk into this building. And, as I said before it's never gonna' happen again, and if we can we'd like to turn it around on them."
Piggott senior running back Logan Dixon led the rout of the Bobcats, racking up 289 yards rushing on 11 carries, including touchdown runs of 9, 63, 94 and 92 yards and adding a 35 yard touchdown catch and run on a pass from Bret Fuller. "If I had known he was so close to 300 yards I probably would have gotten him another carry," Harrell surmised.
With a light rain falling, and the threat of thunderstorms in the forecast, the Bobcats held their annual senior night activities prior to kickoff. The Mohawks then put on their own show for the crowd, showcasing both an explosive offense and stifling defense.
"We came out ready to go, we told the seniors that it's all about ya'll and we just lifted our seniors up and gave them everything we had. We left them on the field the whole night, and they went out with a bang," Harrell said of the win. "They went out with awesome memories. Other than walking out of here with a state championship, what better way to end your senior high career by thumping Corning 49-12.
Deferring to the second half, the Mohawks kicked-off short but got the ball back moments later on downs. The Tribe then put together their first scoring drive, capped by a one yard run by Fuller with 7:38 to play in the first. Hayden Lemmons notched the two point conversion, and the Mohawk lead was 8-0. Later in the quarter the Tribe would get their second score, and Dixon his first, as he carried it in from nine yards out with 5:08 to go in the first, but the PAT was no good and the lead stood at 15-0.
Late in the first the Bobcats got on the board with an 8 yard touchdown pass reception by Mason Silberstein, but the two-point conversion attempt was intercepted by Trace Stallings, setting the score at 15-6. Less than two minutes into the second quarter Corning would get their second, and final, touchdown of the game on a one yard run by Cole Haywood. Once again the two-point conversion attempt was no good, and the Tribe led 15-12.
On the first play of the following set of downs Dixon broke his first long touchdown, taking it 63 yards to paydirt with 6:01 to play in the first half. Lacy added the PAT, and the Mohawk led grew to 22-12. Then, just past the mid-way point of the quarter Fuller hit a wide-open Dixon in the left flat and he took it in for a 35 yard touchdown. This time Lacy's PAT was no good, and the score moved to 28-12.
The score remained the same until late in the first half, when Dixon broke-off a 94 yard touchdown. This time Lacy hit the PAT, and the score moved to 35-12.
At the half the crowd was entertained by a performance by the combined Piggott and Corning marching bands, as they performed selected pieces from their respective marching programs. The two bands then joined together in playing the ASU fight song, as both the directors, Jeremy Wortham and David Hall, attended Arkansas State.
As the second half got underway the Mohawks wasted no time, as Fuller took it in from two yards out early in the quarter. Once again Lacy hit the PAT, and the score moved to 42-12.
As the Mohawks substituted freely, the two teams ground-out the remainder of the third and much of the fourth quarter. Twice Corning drives were broken up by Mohawk interceptions, as senior Caleb Welborn pulled down two Bobcat pass attempts-one late in the contest to end a scoring threat. "Caleb had a great year, he ended with six interceptions, tops in all of 3A, first place statewide in our class," Harrell added
But, the speedy Dixon was not through yet, as he broke a 92 yard touchdown run late in the ballgame. Lacy added the PAT, and the final score was set.
The Mohawks dominated both side of the football, racking up 400 yards in total offense while holding the Bobcats to 152 yards. Dixon finished with 289 yards rushing on 11 carries, and the 35 yard touchdown reception from Fuller. "Logan has had an awesome year, and he's a coach's dream," Harrell offered with a smile. "He really spoiled me, because I got used to Logan hitting homeruns so it took away from my play calling. I probably got too conservative, because why pass when Logan can rip one off? It's just something I'm going to have to learn as I grow as a coach. Just an awesome kid, he's got like a 3.8 GPA is an absolute pleasure to be around and works so hard."
Also contributing were seniors Cody Crittenden with 22 yards on 3 carries and Landon Williams with 21 yards on 6 carries. Welborn also had a big fourth-down run of 22 yards, keeping a Mohawk scoring drive alive in the first half. As for the Mohawk aerial attack, Fuller was 1 for 1 for 35 yards and a TD on his completion to Dixon.
Leading the Bobcats on offense, as he has all season, was their workhorse, Connor Daniels, as he rushed for 110 tough yards on 25 carries.
With the win the Mohawks conclude the campaign at 6-4 overall and 3-4 in conference play, just out of the five-team playoff hunt.
Dixon concludes his high school career with a strong season, as he rushed for 1,530 yards on 182 carries scoring 16 touchdowns this year. He also added another 292 yards in kick-off and punt returns, and scored 2 two-point conversions. This winter he'll showcase his talents with the Mohawk basketball squad, and in the spring Dixon is expected to once again make a big impact as a sprinter for the Tribe track squad.
In looking back on the campaign Harrell notes the burden falls squarely on his shoulders. "It's been a whirlwind, we came out on fire and then the Rivercrest game got us back on our heels. You know it's just a battle, when you look at our conference and just about everybody was good. And, with just a few breaks we would be 8-2," he explains. "It's hard to choke, especially as the head coach. Because, it's the coach that loses those close games. And, I feel the weight of the whole town on me, because I know what we have. You know, at 6-4 we probably should be happy because it's the best we've had in a long time, probably since 2005. But, we all had higher expectations than that, and we're gonna' keep working until we get there."
Harrell added his younger players are also looking forward, and anxious to get in the weight room to prepare. "I think we're losing about 10 seniors, and those boys are going to be dearly missed. But, we pick up 22 freshmen from that 7-2 bunch, and our sophomores are legit and we've got some really good juniors. So, I think the future is bright for this program," he added.
As he looks forward to his third year at the helm, Harrell will also benefit from this year's group of sophomores, a number of which made a huge impact. "Cade Harrell led the conference in solo tackles with 95, and he is the leading sophomore in the state of Arkansas and about seventh or eighth in 3A overall and John Jones is right there behind him," he observed. "You look at kids like Nate Mallard and Dalton Morris, you know we started six or seven sophomores on defense all year and were ranked second or third in conference on points allowed so I feel we have a lot of bright days ahead of us."
Also returning will be Fuller, Justin Goding and Trevon Allen, who saw playing time at the cornerback spot. "We're losing Logan but we've got kids like Gunner Shaw and Mason Tillman moving up, and Lane Buchanan. We'll be loaded in the backfield," he added. "And, Trey Gossett will move into the quarterback spot, and I'll move Fuller into the backfield. He's as good a play action passer as there is in this conference. We also lose a lot of talent on the line, but have some good kids moving up."
Harrell also pointed to keeping the team healthy as a key to their continued success. "We were fortunate to avoid injuries this year, and I think it has a lot to do with Coach Shawn Hearn and his BFS (Bigger, Faster Stronger) program. The kids were in shape before the season started, and that made all the difference," he explained. "And, I want to mention how much I appreciate the support we've received from Superintendent Powell. She let us get the more expensive anti-concussion helmets, and we cut concussions to just one this year--and that happened to a seventh grader during practice because they're still learning not to lead with their heads. Only one in seventh through 12th, thanks to having the better equipment. We appreciate all the support we've received from the school district."
The Mohawks are slated to begin the 2016 campaign at Marked Tree, and will follow that up with non-conference games at home against Portageville and Rector before starting conference play. Next year Newport and Walnut Ridge replace Melbourne and Cedar Ridge, and join Rivercrest, Osceola, Manila, Hoxie and Corning as the Tribe's conference foes.
Playoff Schedule Set
The first round of the high school football playoffs are set for Friday, Nov. 13, as the hunt for state titles begins in all classes.
Advancing from 2A-3 this season were Cross County, who beat Earle last week to move into first, followed by the Bulldogs, Marked Tree, Walnut Ridge and Salem. The T-Birds host Murfreesboro, Earle will entertain Magnet Cove, Marked Tree hosts the Brinkley Tigers, Walnut Ridge is at Des Arc and the Greyhounds will travel to Mount Ida.
The Rivercrest Colts edged Osceola 19-18 Friday night to take the 3A-3 title outright, followed by Hoxie, the Seminole, Cedar Ridge and Manila. In the first round the Colts host Cedarville, Hoxie plays host to Fouke, Osceola is on the road at Greenland, Cedar Ridge travels to Lamar and the Manila Lions visit the top-ranked Buckaroos of Smackover.
The complete brackets for each classification may be found on the Arkansas Activities Association website at http://www.ahsaa.org/