Tribe Drops One Point Loss at WR
The longtime rivalry between the Piggott Mohawks and Walnut Ridge Bobcats continued Friday night, as the Tribe made the trip to Lawrence County and came up on the short end of a 35-34 decision. Like a pair of heavyweight boxers, the teams swapped punches throughout the contest as neither squad could gain a clear advantage. In the end, missed two point conversions and a handful of key mistakes added up to the difference.
“The boys played hard, and they did everything we asked of them--it was just the little things,” Mohawk Coach Michael Harrell observed later.
Getting first shot at the ball, the Bobcats wasted little time Friday night as Cade Burris scored from 59 yards out on the first series of downs. Adding the PAT, the hosts took the early 7-0 lead.
The Tribe would answer later in the quarter, as quarterback Trey Gossett capped a drive with a six yard touchdown run. With Luke Boyd adding the two point conversion, the Mohawks took the lead at 8-7 with 5:25 to go in the first quarter. But, the Mustangs would answer with Burris' second touchdown, from 24 yards out, at the 2:35 mark. With Aaron Shapira adding the PAT, the Bobcats took a 14-8 lead after one.
With 8:22 left until intermission the Mohawks would answer, as Gossett got his second touchdown on a 29 yard run. Failing to convert, the score stood knotted at 14-14.
Burris would score his third touchdown of the game with 5:21 to go in the second quarter, this time from a yard out. Once again adding the PAT, the Bobcats took a 21-14 advantage into the locker room.
Taking to the field for the second half, the Mohawks wasted no time as Gunner Shaw returned the kickoff some 90 yards for a touchdown. But, once again the conversion was no good as the Tribe trailed 21-20.
Making a strong defensive stand, the Mohawks got the ball back a short time later and made the Bobcats pay, as Jacob Scott scored on a 24 yard touchdown run. Gossett then added the two point conversion, and the Mohawks took a 28-21 advantage with 5:59 to play in the third.
Just over two minutes later Walnut Ridge responded, with Burris scoring a five yard touchdown. With the PAT, the Bobcats tied the game at 28-all.
Neither team added to their scores as the third wound-down, and the contest rolled into the fourth quarter. Finally, with 5:47 left in the game the Tribe broke the deadlock as Shaw got his second touchdown on a three yard carry. But, the conversion attempt was no good as the Mohawks took a 34-28 lead.
The host team would answer once-again, as Burris scored from 17 yards out with just 1:52 to play in regulation to tie the game at 34-34. Adding the PAT, the Bobcats took a 35-34 lead and held on for the win.
“You know, it was execution and the little things you do offensively. When you lose a one point game you can beat yourself to death on every single play—it was right here, right here,” Harrell observed. “It's just the little things, we need to do the little things better.”
Citing the history of the series, Coach Harrell pointed to past contests as an indication of how difficult it is to win on the Bobcat's home turf. “It's tough to go into Walnut Ridge and win, that 's the second time in three years that we've lost a close one there. It was 14-13 then, 35-34 this year, you're just not going to win a close game there.”
Several key penalty flags also played a role in the outcome of the contest, as has been the case in some of the earlier meetings.
“You have to take the refs out of the game, and there were three big fourth-down penalties that were game changers,” he explained. “That roughing the passer call was definitely not roughing the passer, but it got them out of the hole and they went and scored on that drive. And it's just stuff like that, but that's neither here nor there, you just have to take care of business.”
Shaw led all rushers with 151 yards on 19 carries, and the long kickoff return for a TD; Gossett had 90 yards on 12 carries and Scott finished with 86 yards on 12 carries, and both scored as well. Total yardage went to the Tribe 345 to 324, although the Bobcats had 124 yards passing while the Tribe could only muster nine.
“Offensively it's just the little things, you know they're a good football team and they have a lot of weapons and I thought our defense played well,” Harrell added. “We got them to a lot of third and fourth downs, and other than getting a big play on us the second or third play of the game, other than that our defense played well but we've just got to do the little things better.”
This week the Hoxie Mustangs visit Parker Field for homecoming, and are expected to give the Tribe a good game as well.
“Hoxie is gonna show us a lot of the same stuff, except they'll run the ball quite a bit more out of the spread,” Harrell offered. “These next few weeks are gonna be rough, Hoxie is a good football team, Osceola is a good football team, that's just life in this conference.”
With the loss the Mohawks fall to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference while Walnut Ridge moves to 4-2 overall and 1-2 in the 3A-3. The Mustangs are now 3-3 on the season, and 1-2 in conference, after they extended Corning's losing streak to 38 games last Friday with a 51-20 win over the hapless Bobcats.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., with homecoming festivities slated to begin around 6.