Tribe Punishes Walnut Ridge on Senior Night
For a full year the Piggott Mohawk players and coaching staff pointed to the one-point loss at Walnut Ridge as one of the greatest disappointments of their highly successful season. The loss cost the Tribe the chance to host a first round playoff game, and directly led to them being forced to travel to Prescott in the second round and take on the eventual state champions.
Friday night the Mohawks took out that frustration on the Bobcats as they hosted them for senior night, pounding on the Walnut Ridge squad at every turn en route to a 44-0 conference win. This Friday the stakes are even higher, as the Mohawks travel to Hoxie and take on the Mustangs with major playoff implications.
Picking up where they had left off in the Manila contest, the Mohawks continued to hit on all cylinders Friday night as they dominated both sides of the football and on special teams. Senior John Jones celebrated with the first touchdown of the game, carrying it in from five yards out just minutes into the contest. Although the two point conversion attempt was no good, the Tribe took a lead they would never relinquish.
Stuffing the Walnut Ridge offense at every turn, the Mohawk defense quickly got the ball back and the offense went back on the assault. Capping the drive was fullback Lane Buchanon, who carried the ball in from nine yards out to make it 12-0. Although, once again the two point conversion attempt was no good.
But, the Tribe defense had the answer as they drove the Walnut Ridge offense back into the shadow of their own goalpost on the following drive, prompting the Bobcats to take a knee in the endzone for a safety as opposed to giving up another easy touchdown, moving to score to 14-0.
In the second quarter Jones would get his second touchdown, as he broke a 27 yard run to paydirt at the 10:06 mark, although once again the two point conversion try came up short, setting the score at 20-0.
Following another strong stand by the defense, quarterback Trey Gossett scored from the two yard line to make it 26-0. This time Mason Tillman added the two point conversion, as the halftime score stood at 28-0 in favor of the Tribe.
The Mohawks substituted freely throughout the second half, adding a 10 yard touchdown in the third quarter by Tillman, and the conversion by Buchanon, to take a 36-0 lead into the fourth.
The Tribe would get their final tally early in the fourth quarter, with the clock running by way of the mercy rule, as Reegan Mayberry got the nod and scored from one yard out. Senior Cade Harrell came on to notch the two point conversion, and the final score was set at 44-0.
On the night nine different Mohawks carried the football, with five different players scoring touchdowns. The defense also dominated, holding the Bobcats to negative yardage throughout much of the contest, with senior Hayden Lemmons recording two interceptions.
“Our seniors came out really fired up and ready to go Friday night,” Mohawk Coach Michael Harrell said of the contest. “The defense played just lights-out, I think they were at minus 45 yards total offense just before halftime. Later they got a couple of big runs and got out of the red, but I just can't say enough about the defense. Nate Mallard and those guys were in the backfield all night long.”
Harrell also pointed to the improved play of the defensive backfield as key to the recent success.
“Our secondary played great, “Slim” (Quentin Reeves) had about six tackles over there at his cornerback spot, Hayden (Lemmons) had two picks, but everybody did a great job, no matter what they did we had guys in position and in the right spot,” Harrell added. “The guys really followed the game plan well that Coach (Walter) Rau had laid out for them.”
On the night the Tribe racked up 287 yards in total offense, while holding the Bobcats to a total of just 53. One of the keys to the success was the play of the Mohawk line, which boasts a wealth of experience.
“I'm so proud of our offensive line, those seniors up there and our juniors, man they just rolled,” Harrell added. “I thought Walnut Ridge did a good job of mixing it up between odd and even fronts, they really mixed it up but our guys didn't get rattled. They followed their blocking rules and knew what to do.”
Leading the rushing-by-committee attack was Lemmons with 66 yards on nine carries while Jones was close behind with 65 yards on eight carries and Harrell finished with 57 yards on 10 totes. Rounding out the effort were Tillman with 39 yards on five carries; Gossett with 18 yards on five carries; Buchanon with 17 yards on just four carries; Elijah Bellers with 14 yards on two carries; Reegan Mayberry with 10 yards on three carries and Jacob Scott had one carry for one yard. Colin Phillips led the Bobcats on offense with 42 yards on 16 tough carries.
“I think there were only two series that we didn't score on, so I guess we left about 20 points on the field, but we put together some good drives and had a lot of guys carry the ball,” Coach Harrell surmised. But, the guys up front—Alex Gibson, Devin Riley, Nate Mallard, Luke Boyd, Luke Carpenter and the ends, Dylan Bellers and Cory Fuller, and Slim played some at end, those seven up front really did a good job for us.”
With the win the Tribe move to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in conference, behind Rivercrest and Osceola and knotted with Hoxie for third as they own the tie-breaker over the Newport Greyhounds. With two games to play Friday night's game at Hoxie looms large.
“It's a big one, with Newport beating Rivercrest the other night it really opens things up,” Harrell explains. “If things play out and we take care of business, and Osceola takes care of business against Rivercrest, if we beat Hoxie by 11 points or more we'll be the two seed, if we beat Hoxie at all we'll be the three seed. If we lose to Hoxie we'll be going to Prescott, it don't get much bigger than that.”
In light of the playoff implications, it's easy to understand why the Mohawks are not taking the showdown at Hoxie lightly.
“These kids have been playing their whole life for this moment, and it all comes down to this game Friday night,” Harrell offered. “This town deserves to host a playoff game, with the tailgating and the way they've turned out for our kids, we want to give them a home playoff game. And, if we can get the two seed we might give them two home playoff games. And, that's what we're working for this week.”
With a tough task at hand, Mohawk fans can rest assured the preparation will be addressed.
“We worked a little later last night, and we'll work a little later tonight, just to get ready,” Harrell added. “This is it, we've got an opportunity and we're not going to let this slip through our hands.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday night at Hoxie, and the weather forecast is currently calling for wet and cool conditions.