SPORTS >>Badgers escape Falcons
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
The Beebe Badgers caught North Pulaskiís best shot so far this season, but still managed to get out of Falcons Stadium with a 33-23 victory over the Falcons on homecoming night.
The Falcon offense stalled on the opening drive, but the defense stopped Beebeís spread attack on the ensuing possession.
The Falcons got the ball back and took advantage of three Beebe penalties, including a roughing the kicker penalty on a missed field- goal attempt that would have given the Badgers the ball on the 20-yard line.
Instead, North Pulaski senior fullback Charles Baker rumbled in from three yards out on the next play to give North Pulaski a 6-0 lead with 1:46 left in the first quarter.
The Badgers wasted little time answering. On the last play of the quarter, Badger quarterback Jared Mathis scrambled 47 yards up the middle of the field for the touchdown. The extra point was good and Beebe led 7-6 to start the second quarter.
The Falcons drove the field again, but the drive stalled at the Beebe 21. From there, lineman Jeffrey Bogard hit a 38-yard field goal with 8:15 remaining in the half to give the Falcons a 9-7 lead.
Beebe finally got some continuity going on offense, and drove the field against NP for the first time in the game.
A short pass from Mathis to junior receiver Charlie Spakes capped a six-minute drive and gave the Badgers a 13-9 lead that they took into intermission.
Beebe started the second half with good field position, and hit another big play on the second snap of the drive. This time Mathis found James Anderson on a short pattern near the Beebe sideline. Anderson turned up the sideline and ran the rest of the 57 yards for the score. The extra point again was no good, and Beebe led 19-9 with 11:36 left in the third quarter.
The Falconsí offensive struggles continued as the Beebe defense stiffened and forced another punt.
The Badgers drove the field again with Zack Kersey taking the snaps, but trouble came as Beebe approached the red zone. A screen pass intended for Robbie Puckett was read by North Pulaskiís Melvin Tenner.
Tenner stepped in front of Puckett, picked off the pass and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown. Baker was stopped inches from the goal line on the two-point try, leaving Beebe with a 19-15 lead with 7:50 left in the third.
The Badgers put the game away with back-to-back scores on their next two possessions.
Two seven-yard touchdown passes to Spakes sealed the deal. The first pass was by Mathis with 4:25 left in the third, the second one was from Kersey with 8:02 left in the game and put the Badgers up 33-15.
North Pulaski added its final score on a long drive that culminated in a six-yard run by sophomore Jordan Anderson. The extra point was good, setting the final margin.
Mathis had a whale of a game. The senior quarterback completed 16 of 19 pass attempts for 244 yards and three touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing, carrying 12 times for 100 yards and another score.
James Anderson caught four passes for 104 yards and a touchdown, while Spakes made six catches for 57 yards, including three for scores.
Both teams have tough matchups next week. The 0-5 Falcons will travel to Batesville while the 4-1 Badges will host Wynne.