Junior Cougars Beat Earle at Home
Shannon Patterson intercepted one pass and saved the game with a downfield tackle in the closing seconds as the Rector Junior High School football team improved to 4-0 on the season last week with a 14-6 home win against Earle.
The final Earle play also secured a shutout by the Rector defense that dug in early and often against the Junior Bulldogs.
"Our defense played pretty well all night," said Rector coach Dave Hendrix. "They have a whole lot of speed and we kept them contained for the most part."
That speed was evident on the Junior Bulldogs' final lunge toward the goal line, a pass play that covered roughly 60 yards before Patterson tied up and brought down the receiver at around the Rector 30-yard line to preserve the victory.
The tackle stopped a late surge by Earle after Rector had staked to a 14-0 lead in the second half.
Up 6-0 at halftime, the Junior Cougars gained breathing room midway through the third quarter when Max Ford scored on a nine-yard run. Rector pulled further ahead on the two-point conversion, a pass from Parker Busy to Keaton Speer with 3:42 left.
Earle ran back the ensuing kickoff for its lone touchdown of the game to remain within striking distance down the stretch.
The Junior Cougars limited the visitors' scoring opportunities with the stingy defense and set the tone early by logging Rector's first fumble recovery for a touchdown this season.
The Junior Cougars struck first in the game's first minute. Following a pair of penalties that backed Earle up to a first-and-20 from within its own territory, Trace Sanders knocked the ball loose from an Earle player scrambling to get back to the line of scrimmage and teammate Gage Parrish recovered the fumble and carried it to the end zone just 18 seconds into the game.
After losing a yard on a three-and-out on its next possession Earle punted the ball to the Junior Cougars, who then strung together a 15-play drive that lasted until midway through the second quarter.
The drive stalled after nine minutes, 47 seconds of game time on a turnover on downs that followed three Rector penalties - the first of which erased a Ford five-yard scoring run.
It was the first of two times in the game lengthy drives ended just short of points.
"Offensively, we've got to stop self-destructing," said Hendrix. We've got to take care of the ball and stop getting stupid penalties."
Rector's top four ballcarriers averaged 7.1 yards a run against the Junior Bulldogs. Ford finished with 122 yards on 14 carries while Patterson added 38 yards on seven rushing attempts. Joseph Baker carried the ball four times for 31 yards while Busey finished with 16 yards on four attempts.
In addition to Patterson's interception and game-saving tackle, Ford led the Junior Cougars' defensive charge with an interception and seven tackles. Sanders finished with six tackles, including two for a loss, while Parrish also had six tackles that included one for a loss.
The win came a week after Rector improved to 3-0 with a 14-6 win against Salem. Ford scored both touchdowns in that game, a rushing touchdown and an interception returned for another score.
The Junior Cougars were to play at Cross County on Tuesday in another game Hendrix expected to be a stiff challenge. They return for their final home game of the season Oct. 6 against East Poinsett County.
Senior Cougars travel to Salem
After a game against Blytheville Kipp was canceled due to Kipp being unable to field a team, the Rector Senior High School football team resumes its season this Friday at Salem.
The Cougars (0-2) used their nearly two-week layoff to regroup following a loss at Piggott.
"We're just trying to get in a little better shape," said Hendrix, "and get back to the fundamentals."
Rector plays at Earle next week before returning for a home game Oct. 14 against Cross County.