Cougars Drop Game to Bulldogs

Thursday, October 13, 2016

BY JEREMY HALL

Times-Democrat Sports Staff

Rector could not slow down the high-octane offense of Earle, falling 60-0 Friday in a 2A-Region 3 prep football game.

The Bulldogs, ranked No. 11 in last week's state Hooten's Class 2A poll, scored on four of five first-half possessions in pulling ahead 36-0 by halftime.

Rector (0-3, 0-4) moved the ball early to try and keep pace with Earle (3-0, 4-2), but failed to convert offensive drives into touchdowns. The Cougars started their first four first-half possessions following kickoffs from an average of their own 44-yard line and gained 75 yards on their first two possessions before stalling deep in Earle territory.

"We've got to stop self-imploding," said Rector coach Dave Hendrix. We've got to hang onto the football."

The Bulldogs received the ball to start the game and strung together a four-minute drive that resulted in quarterback Gerry Bohanon running into the end zone. Treyvon Reel ran in the two-point conversion to give Earle an 8-0 lead four minutes into the game.

Rector began at its own 43-yard line for its first offensive possession. The Cougars methodically moved the ball 37 yards all the way to the Earle 20 before turning the ball over on downs midway through the first quarter.

Earle wasted little time stretching its lead as Bohanon tossed an 80-yard touchdown strike to Dontrell Johnson a minute after the Bulldogs took possession. Jaylon Copeland ran in the two-point conversion for a 16-0 Earle lead with five minutes left in the opening frame.

On the ensuing kickoff, Rector again set up near midfield - this time at its own 47. The Cougars pushed all the way to Earle's 15-yard line before again turning the ball over on downs.

The Cougar defense then made Earle work for its next points, which came roughly three minutes later on a rushing touchdown by the Bulldogs. Rector also stopped the two-point conversion as Earle staked to a 22-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Cougars started their ensuing possession again near midfield, at their own 45, but were unable to surge forward as they did on their first two chances with the ball. The Cougars moved just four yards to the 49 before turning the ball over on downs.

Rector gained another opportunity when the Cougars' Andrew Carter intercepted a Bohanon pass and sent its offense to the field at its own 30 with nine minutes to play in the second quarter. Rector again moved the ball against the Bulldogs, driving 40 yards to the Earle 30.

But another turnover on downs stalled the drive and gave Earle the ball with three minutes remaining in the first half.

One minute later, Bohanon connected with Leeandre Millow for a touchdown pass. Rector successfully defended the two-point conversion as the Bulldogs stretched their lead to 28-0.

The Cougars then started their next possession at their own 40, but failed to drive the ball. After Earle took over on downs at the Rector 37 with less than a minute left in the first half, Bohanon again hit Johnson for a touchdown strike. Reel tacked on the conversion with a run and the Bulldogs led 36-0 in the waning seconds of the first half.

The Cougars opened the second half with the ball, but fumbled before getting on track. Earle recovered the ball at the Rector 33 and promptly converted the turnover into points as Reel scored on a run from that distance. Johnson covered the yards needed for the two-point conversion and the Bulldogs flew ahead 44-0 roughly four minutes into the second half.

From there, Earle remained in cruise control. Bohanon and Johnson connected for their third touchdown pass in the closing seconds of the third quarter before another rushing touchdown and two-point conversion gave the Bulldogs their final margin of victory with two minutes left to play in the game.

Rector threatened between the two touchdowns starting at its own 30 early in the fourth quarter and moving the chains to the 46. But another fumble and Earle recovery ended the threat and the Bulldogs scored their final touchdown five minutes later.

Bohanon threw for four touchdowns and ran for another, against one interception, to pace the Earle offense. The senior had three touchdown passes and the TD run before the end of the second quarter.

As the score got out of hand by Earle never letting up from the gas pedal despite the continuous clock rule, Hendrix focused on the future by running plays in the game situation that may be used in future games. He took credit for the lopsided score.

"A lot of it is my fault," he said. "[The final margin] probably could have been less.

He also praised the effort of his players.

"They played really hard," he said. "They didn't give up. I was pleased with that."

Tommy Stokes and Carter together averaged 7.4 yards per rushing attempt for the Cougars. Stokes toted the ball 11 times for 78 yards while Carter gained 69 yards on nine carries.

Stokes also finished with eight tackles to lead the Rector defense, while Carter had seven tackles and an interception. Dalton Morris and Frank Herrera recorded six tackles apiece for the Cougars.

Earle won its third straight game and is a win ahead of Cross County in the league standings. Cross County is 2-0 in 2A-Region 3 play, while the Bulldogs are 3-0. Cross County has a better overall record (5-1) than Earle. East Poinsett County also remains unbeaten in league play at 2-0 and is 4-2 overall. Salem and Marked Tree are both 1-2 in the conference and 3-3 overall.

In the 2A-Region 3 logjam atop the standings, Cross County, Earle and East Poinsett County have compiled a combined record of 7-0 in league play and 13-5 overall.

Rector hosts Cross County this week before playing at East Poinsett County next week. Cross County, ranked No. 14 in last week's Hooten's 2A rankings, eeked by Salem 20-12 on Friday and beat Midland 44-0 in the fourth week of the season.

All of Rector's four games thus far this season have been against ranked teams, according to Hooten's. In addition to Earle, opening-week foe Palestine-Wheatley was ranked No. 16 last week, while Piggott was ranked No. 17 among the state's 3A teams. Salem was tabbed the No. 28 team in Class 2A.

Two future Cougar opponents also were ranked last week, as East Poinsett County was tabbed at No. 13 and Marked Tree came in at No. 23.

Rector continues to run the gauntlet this week by hosting Cross County on Friday for homecoming. Kickoff is set for 7.

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