Mohawks Notch Historic Playoff Win

Thursday, November 17, 2016
Mohawk sophomore running back Gunner Shaw cuts the corner in action against Cedar Ridge.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

The Piggott Mohawks advanced to the second round of the 3A state football playoffs Friday night with a lopsided 42-14 win at Cedar Ridge. Despite the historic significance of the program's first playoff win in the modern era, the Tribe had very little trouble dispatching the run-oriented Timberwolves as they improve to 9-2 on the season. Friday night the squad will face a much stronger opponent, as they visit the Prescott Curlywolves in the second round.

"We felt like we were the better team, but we didn't want to come in overconfident at all, you can look at the Walnut Ridge game and see what happens when you come in overconfident," Coach Michael Harrell said of the victory. "These guys came out ready to play, and I was really proud of the way the offensive line came out and dominated the line of scrimmage. We had over 400 yards rushing again, and I'm not sure how many times we've done that this year but I'd have to say it was six or seven game this year."

John Jones proved to be the workhorse for the Mohawks on this night, carrying the football 20 times for 139 yards and two touchdowns in the rout. He also had his usual strong performance on defense, helping shut-down the Timberwolves rushing attack from his linebacker spot.

Senior running back Justin Goding shows great form as he breaks-off a 39 yard touchdown run to cap the Tribe's playoff win over the Timberwolves.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

Jones got the first touchdown of the night with 3:02 to play in the first as he took it in from the seven. Senior Bret Fuller then kicked his first of six PATs on the game, and the Tribe led 7-0.

Cedar Ridge answered with their first touchdown with 9:47 to go in the first half as C.J. Brustrom carried the ball in 17 yards for a touchdown. But, the Mohawk special teams blocked the PAT and the score stood at 7-6.

Understandably, the team had a few playoff jitters in the early going of the game at Cedar Ridge, accounting for a couple of turnovers and a cheap touchdown. But, after they settled-in to the job at hand, the Mohawks dominated their hosts on both sides of the football.

Neither team scored again until late in the first half, as the Mohawks capped a drive with a 6 yard touchdown run by Gunner Shaw. Fuller once again provided the PAT, and the Tribe enjoyed a 14-6 lead at the halftime break.

"We were just a couple of fumbles away from jumping on them early. We gave up a couple of costly turnovers in the first half, or it should have been 28-0 at halftime," Harrell observed. "But, I'm really proud of the guys, especially the way Coach (Walter) Rau's defense is playing--running around, shutting them down. I think they only had 125 yards in total offense, with 89 of those coming through the air."

The first drive of the second half set the tone, as the Mohawks pounded it downfield and scored with 7:12 to go in the third quarter on a one yard run by Jones. Fuller added another PAT, and the Tribe lead grew to 21-6. This would prove to be the only touchdown of the quarter, as the two defenses showed their strengths.

But, the fourth quarter was another matter, as the Timberwolves would get their second, and final, touchdown and the Tribe would rack-up three more. The first Piggott score came with 10:07 to go in the contest as Jones carried the ball in from two yards out. About a minute later Cedar Ridge answered, scoring on a one yard touchdown run and adding the two-point conversion on a pass to Brustrom.

The touchdown had been set-up by a good run by Daylon Gant, his longest of the contest.

But, the Tribe wasn't finished yet, as Trey Gossett added a three yard touchdown run with 3:27 to go in the contest, and on the following possession senior Justin Goding broke free for a 39 yard scamper. Fuller was on automatic, notching all of the possible PATs, and the final score was set at 42-14.

"We're playing really well right now," Harrell surmised. "This 2016 bunch just keeps adding notches to their belt, and they've really raised the bar and put Mohawk football back on the map. And, I couldn't be prouder of them right now."

In addition to Jones' 139 yards on the ground, the Tribe got 80 yards on 10 carries from Goding, 61 yards on 10 carries from Shaw, 35 yards on 10 carries by Cade Harrell, 27 yards on 2 carries by Mason Tillman, 23 yards on 2 carries by Hayden Lemmons, 10 yards on 6 carries by Gossett and 10 yards on 2 carries by Jacob Scott. Top rusher for Cedar Ridge was Gant with just 28 yards on 8 carries. Coming into the contest Gant had rushed for over 1,000 yards on 106 carries, and was averaging over 10 yards a carry.

Mohawk quarterback Gossett was 1 for 2 passing with an 11 yard completion to Shaw, while Ryan Parks was 4 for 10 passing for the Timberwolves for a total of 89 yards.

On the night the Mohawks amassed 406 yards rushing, as they had 417 yards in total offense.

As for Cedar Ridge, the Piggott defense held them to just 36 yards rushing, as they finished with 125 yards in total offense on the game. Leading the team in tackles was Nate Mallard with 7 while Jones and Cade Harrell had six each. Jones also recoved a fumble and Harrell had a quarterback sack as the two junior linebackers continued to have a strong season.

Friday night the Tribe will be on the road at Prescott, as they'll take on the Curlywolves in the second round. The last time the two teams met was in the first round of the 2007 playoffs, as the Tribe visited Prescott and came out on the short end of a 41-8 decision.

"They're good, they're fast, they remind me of a combination of Newport and Hoxie. Offensively they do a lot of the same things Hoxie does, they just "situation" you to death," Harrell said of the scouting reports. "They've got a good quarterback, and he can throw, and they'll want to do some read-zone stuff."

As far as Harrell is concerned the Curlywolves pose a challenge, but one his team is up to. "But, I feel we can handle their run game, we do what we do and shut down the run game and make them pass," he added. "And, we've been working on our secondary a lot this week, so I feel good about the game. I think it's a good matchup."

He noted the Curlywolves will also offer some challenges on the other side of the football, as well.

"Defensively they'll be a lot like Newport, they'll be tough. But, I feel we can still move the ball on them, and what we need to do is stick with the same formula we used against Rivercrest, Osceola and Newport and those guys, we have to take the ball and keep it away from them," he offered. "If they haven't got the ball they can't score, and we need some of those good 14 and 15 play drives which generate touchdowns. And, if we can put that stuff all together we're going to shock the whole state."

The Curlywolves remained undefeated as they advanced with a 47-6 over the Lakeside Beavers, who came into the game with a record of 4-6.

With a win in the second round, the Mohawks would advance to take on the winner of Friday night's contest between top-seeded Fordyce and Paris on Friday, Nov. 18. Paris advanced with a 36-24 win over Walnut Ridge while Fordyce had a bye in the first round of play. The complete update follows.

Playoff Update

The Piggott Mohawks continued to re-write the local football history books Friday night as they traveled to Newark and manhandled the Cedar Ridge Timberwolves 42-14 in the first round of the 3A state playoffs.

Coaches Michael Harrell, Walter Rau and Coach Shawn Hearn will now prepare the team for the second round and a road trip to Prescott to take on the Curlywolves. They advanced easily as well, posting a 47-6 victory over Lake View Lakeside. Piggott and Prescott last met in the first round of the 2007 playoffs, with the Curlywolves posting a lopsided home win.

Of the Mohawk's conference mates, top seeded Rivercrest pounded the Barton Bears 55-20, and they'll host Junction City this coming Friday evening. The Dragons advanced with a 38-20 home win over Manila, eliminating the Lions from the bracket. The Bobcats of Walnut Ridge were also eliminated, as they traveled to Paris and dropped a 36-24 decision to the Eagles.

The Newport Greyhounds also advanced to the second round, along with the Mohawks and Colts. They hosted Mayflower and posted a 29-8 victory. They'll make the short trip to Searcy Friday night to take on the 3A defending state champion Harding Academy Wildcats. They advanced with a 35-16 win over Lamar.

Other 3A first round scores included, Smackover over Melbourne 33-21; Bald Knob past Perryville 40-7; Glen Rose over Fouke 27-26; Elkins past Jessieville 55-21; Harmony Grove Haskell over Mt. View 31-20 and Atkins past Greenland 48-18.

Second round 3A matchups are as follows--

Piggott at Prescott; Junction City at Rivercrest; Newport at Harding Academy; Smackover at Charleston; Centerpoint at Bald Knob; Elkins at Glen Rose; Paris and Fordyce and Harmony Grove Haskell at Atkins.

In 2A action Earle, Cross County and Salem all advanced while EPC and Marked Tree came up short in their first round games.

The Thunderbirds beat Lafayette County 30-26; Salem downed McCrory 28-14 and the Bulldogs rolled over Dierks 38-30. Other first round scores included Carlisle over Quitman 49-21; Mt. Ida past Johnson County Westside 49-0; Conway Christian over Bearden 28-22; Camden Harmony Grover over Palestine-Wheatley 34-14; Hector pounded Rison 52-27; Mountanburg eliminated Marked Tree 41-8; Hampton beat Hazen 53-8; Foreman squeaked by EPC 33-30; England shut-out Parkers Chapel 47-0; Hackett beat Magnet Cove 20-8 and Murfreesboro downed Lavaca 38-30.

Friday night Salem visits Cross County in a battle of very familiar foes. Meanwhile, the Earle Bulldogs will visit Murfreesboro; Carlisle will be at Danville; Conway Christian travels to Mt. Ida; Hector is at Camden Harmony Grove; Mountainburg travels to Des Arc; Foreman is at Hampton and Hackett will visit the England Lions.

The complete updated bracket for all classifications may be found on the Arkansas Activities Association website, courtesy of MaxPreps, at

http://www.maxpreps.com/tournament/BOrL7FJtEea-8KA2nzwbTA/BOrMmlJtEea-8KA2nzwbTA...

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