Football Mohawks Fall to Newport, Set for Playoffs
The Piggott Mohawks (5-4/3-3) will wrap up the regular season Thursday evening at Parker Field as they host the Corning Bobcats (0-9/0-6) in the annual Rice Bowl contest. Last week the Tribe dropped a 35-8 home conference loss to the Newport Greyhounds, as they look forward to the third postseason appearance in a row—a first in school history.
“Newport, they're pretty good and it is what it is—they're well-coached and they've got the speed and the athletes,” Mohawk Coach Michael Harrell said Tuesday morning. “We did contain the run game, that's been our philosophy this year. We're gonna' try to stop your run game and you're just gonna' have to beat us through the air. And, that's what they did—they just got behind us.”
The Greyhounds got on the board early by way of a rushing touchdown by quarterback Cash Forrester. They added to the tally in the first with a pair of touchdown passes from Forrester, as he connected with Tharon Davis on a 16 yard strike and J.T. Haynes from 36 yards out.
“Our kids played hard, they played their guts out,” Harrell explained. :But they just beat us deep and there wasn't a whole lot we could do about that.”
The Greyhounds would add one more touchdown in the first half, as Forrester hit Clemmie Alcorn for a 46 yard strike. Adding the PAT once again, Newport led 28-0 early in the second quarter.
The Tribe answered with their only touchdown of the night about two minutes later, as Sky Wright broke through the line and carried the ball 52 yards to paydirt. Gunner Shaw added the two point conversion, and the score stood at 28-8 at the halftime break.
Coming out of the locker room in the second half, the Mohawk defense stepped-up the intensity and held the Greyhounds at bey. They would add one more touchdown late, scoring early in the fourth quarter on a 21 yard pass catch and run by Davis. Once again adding the PAT, the final score was set.
“They jumped out to 21 nothing in the first quarter, and after that we held them pretty tight. I was super proud of our guys in the second half, for guttin' it out. They only got us 8-0 in the second half,” Harrell offered. “And, we did have a few injuries, but we also had some young guys step in and I was so proud of the boys as they rose to the occasion.”
Coming off the back-to-back losses to the league leaders, the Tribe will now look to close out the regular season on a positive note.
“We knew these last two weeks was gonna' be really hard, Osceola and Newport are really tough and there's a good chance both will be final four teams with one of them potentially playing for a state championship,” Harrell added. “So, we're glad to see that part of the schedule behind us, and we're still playing good ball.”
Shaw led the team in rushing in the Newport loss with 82 yards on 10 carries, while Wright finished with 73 yards on five totes and Luke Boyd had 20 yards on eight carries. Davis led all rushers with 119 yards on 15 carries for the 'Hounds. Forrester was 9 for 23 passing for 189 yards, with three touchdown and one interception. Piggott's Trey Gossett completed one of six attempts for a yard.
Shaw and Gossett also led the Mohawks in tackles on the night.
For the Mohawks, the task is simple this week as they look to continue the Corning Bobcat's 40-plus game losing streak in Thursday night's Rice Bowl contest.
“We've got Corning this week for the Rice Bowl, and that rivalry,” Harrell explained. “It's beat Corning week and we had a great day of practice on Monday in preparation and we're looking forward to this afternoon.”
Widely favored to beat the Bobcats, the Mohawks also need some help to improve their playoff situation. “That one point loss at Walnut Ridge has really bit us in the backside, but in this conference it's like the SEC where every game counts,” Harrell offered. “Right now we need to beat Corning, and we need Walnut Ridge to beat Hoxie. If Walnut Ridge wins we'll be the four seed, and go to McGehee, and if Hoxie wins we'll be the five seed and end up going to Rison. But, we do know we'll be going on the road next week in the first round of the playoffs.”
Despite the two recent losses, Harrell noted he feels the team is ready for another run into the playoffs.
“I like this group, they're gritty and they really work hard. We've been in every ballgame, even in the Osceola game we got there to the middle of the third quarter and its still a one touchdown game,” he surmised. “Newport jumped on us early, but we played a great second half. We just need to put four good quarters together, and when you get to the playoffs who knows what can happen.”
Newport (8-1/6-0) and Osceola(8-1/6-0) meet Friday night with the league title on the line, while Hoxie (5-4/3-3) hosts Walnut Ridge (7-2/4-2) and Harrisburg (3-6/1-5) visits Manila(3-6/1-5)—although both are out of playoff contention.
Prior to Thursday night's 7 p.m. kickoff the Mohawks will recognize the members of the PHS class of 2019, with senior night festivities.