Tribe Collars Bulldogs in Home Opener
The Piggott Mohawks (2-0) rolled to a 34-22 win over the Portageville Bulldogs (1-3) Friday night at Parker Field, beginning their home schedule, and play on the new natural turf, with a win. The contest also played a role in marking the 60th anniversary of the filming of the movie A Face in the Crowd, and the 70th anniversary of the formation of the Mohawk Band.
But, with all fanfare aside, the Tribe manhandled their visitors throughout the contest in a game which was truly won in the trenches. "Our offensive line just took the game over from the first drive," Mohawk Coach Michael Harrell noted of the win. "We had a couple of offsides early, but we got that straightened out. We had over 400 yards rushing, and just rammed it down their throats."
The Mohawks came into the game on a roll, after beating Hazen on the road in week one. As for the Bulldogs, they had taken a pounding in week one at the hands of Caruthersville, and had beaten Chaffee easily in week two. The following week, playing without the services of quarterback Ian Torrey, they were subjected to a brutal beating at the hands of undefeated Malden. Torrey returned for Friday's game, but the Mohawk defense stifled the potent offense for much of the contest.
Piggott won the coin toss, but chose to give the Bulldogs the ball to begin the game. On the first drive the Bulldogs picked up a first down, but were forced to punt it away after picking up a penalty on third down.
"We took what the defense gave us, Coach (Jeff) Bullock tried to take away our traps and blasts, they took away the A and B gaps, but they left us the C," Harrell added. "And one thing Coach Don Campbell has taught me is over the past year is 'whatever the defense does is wrong,' there's a way to attack everything. So we just had to find the weakness and exploit it, and we did for over 400 yards."
The Mohawks first touchdown came with 3:15 to go in the first quarter following a strong drive. The score came as fullback Lane Buchanan fell on a Mohawk fumble in the endzone, and the score stood at 6-0. Trevon Allen attempted the PAT, but it was no good.
The Bulldogs answered a short time later, as they capped the following drive with a 36 yard touchdown pass to Hunter Gates. The PAT by the Bulldogs was also no good, and the score stood tied at 6-6 with 1:29 to play in the first.
Entering the second quarter, the Mohawk line continued to dominate both sides of the football. The Tribe found paydirt again with 8:59 to play in the first half as Cade Harrell ran it in from 18 yards out. John Jones got the nod on the two-point-conversion, and extended the Piggott lead to 14-6.
After another Bulldog drive sputtered, Torrey punted deep and the Mohawks set up in the shadow of their own goal post. Unable to move the football, and hampered by a penalty, they lined-up to punt. The snap was well over the head of Trey Gossett, but the sophomore signal caller had the presence of mind to run the ball out of the back of the endzone and take the safety. This moved the score to 14-8.
Following the free kick, the Mohawk defense tightened-up, and held the Bulldogs at bay. The Tribe also added another touchdown before the half, as senior running back Justin Goding broke a 55 yard run with just 38 seconds to play in the second. Harrell added the two-point-conversion, and the Mohawks enjoyed a 22-8 advantage at intermission.
The second half also began on an up note for the home team, as they put together a scoring drive capped by a 25 yard run by Gunner Shaw. This time the two-point-conversion failed, and the score stood at 28-8 with just over seven minutes to go in the third. That score stood until early in the fourth quarter, as Mohawk quarterback Gossett carried it in from a yard out to make it 34-8. Once again the Mohawks went for the PAT, and it was no good.
With the game in hand the Mohawks began to substitute freely, allowing the Bulldogs the chance to score a couple of unanswered touchdowns. The first came with 8:40 to play, as Torrey hit Hunter Gates for a 59 yard touchdown reception. But, the two-point-conversion pass attempt was no good, setting the score at 34-14.
After the following Mohawk drive stalled, the Bulldogs would score once again as Torrey hit Gates for a 16 yard touchdown reception. Torrey also connected with Gates for the two-point-conversion, setting the final score at 34-22.
Portageville did try on-sides kicks after both touchdowns, but the Mohawks were ready. Both times the Tribe got positive yardage, including a sparkling run by Luke Boyd.
Late in the game the Mohawk defensive backfield also began to adapt, and two of the drives ended on pass interceptions with Shaw picking off one of the Bulldog's pass and Quinten Reeves snagging two.
"It was such a contrast of teams--one in the spread, hurry-up and we're just taking our time and lining up and grounding and pounding and burning up clock," Harrell said of the matchup. "But, it was good for our defense, we graduated our entire secondary last year, so we were inexperienced and playing a team like Portageville was great for us."
The Tribe finished with 402 yards in total offense, all on the ground, while the Bulldogs had 282 total yards, 241 through the air. Goding once again led all rushers with 134 yards on 18 carries, Shaw had 75 yards on 10 carries, Harrell had 73 yards on 15 totes, Jones had 12 carries for 72 yards, Hayden Lemmons carried the ball 5 times for 34 yards and Gossett had 4 carries for 9 yards.
For the Bulldogs, Torrey was 15 of 30 with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and the leading rusher was Lamar Alexander with 6 carries for 29 yards.
Defensively, the Mohawks were led by Harrell with 6 tackles, Jones and Mason Tillman had 5 each, Allen finished with 4 and Dakota Santos had 3. "The outside linebackers did a great job, and our defensive ends," Harrell added. "In the defensive backfield,Hayden Lemmons had a good game, and Trevon Allen had the best game of his career, I'm so proud of him." He also noted all the three seniors are having an impact on the season, with Goding, Allen and Bret Fuller all having big games.
"We started subbing late, and Torrey got us for a couple of long ones--but he's a good quarterback, and it was great experience for our guys to face them," the third year coach added. "You gotta give it to Portageville, they didn't lay down and they hung in there and cut it to 34-22."
The Tribe will be at home again this week as they host the Rector Cougars at Parker Field in the final non-conference game of the season. Next week 3A-3 play begins at Osceola as the Tribe visits the Seminole on Friday, Sept. 23.