SPORTS >>Badgers falter in last half
By JOHNNY RAY LAKE
Special to the Leader
The Beebe Badgers looked as though they were going to put the visiting Nettleton Raiders away early, but on the legs of senior runningback Derek Lawson, the Raiders stormed back to win on the road in Beebe 35-14.
On the opening kickoff, Nettleton (6-3, 5-1) return man Garrett Spencer mishandled the kick, retreated into his own end zone, and as he was attempting to turn up field fumbled, and Beebe (5-4, 3-3) recovered at the Raider 1- yard line. On the first offensive play of the ballgame, quarterback Jared Mathis ran a quarterback keeper up the middle for the score. The extra point was good, and with only 13 seconds into the game Beebe led 7-0.
On the very next kickoff, Nettleton again turned the ball over, and the Badgers again had great field position at the Raider 26. But on fourth and two from the 18-yard line, Mathis’ pass was incomplete.
Nettleton then drove down to the Badger 28-yard line, and on fourth and eight, Badger defensive back Josh Turner intercepted a Nic Schaaf pass to end the drive.
On first and 10 from their own 32, Mathis found James And-erson open for a 46-yard gain down to the Raider 22. On third and 14, Mathis then hooked up with running back Robbie Puckett for a 26-yard scoring strike.
After the extra point, the Badgers led 14-0 with 4:06 left in the first quarter.
Nettleton then marched back. A 12-play, 60-yard drive on their next possession was capped with a one-yard touchdown run by Lawson, and with 2.2 seconds left in the first quarter, Beebe led 14-7.
On the Badgers’ next drive, Puckett fumbled after a nine-yard gain, and the Raiders recovered on their own 30-yard line. Then, on second down, Lawson found a hole up the middle for a 33-yard gain down to the Badger 37-yard line. Nine plays later, Lawson ran in his second score from three yards out, and after the extra point was unsuccessful, Beebe would take a one-point lead into halftime by the score of 14-13.
After receiving the opening kickoff in the second half, Beebe drove 72 yards down to the Raider 1-yard line.
On fourth and goal from the 1, Nettleton met Puckett in the backfield for a two-yard loss. The Raiders then turned the game over to their workhorse Lawson, and he would not disappoint.
The Raiders stormed 97 yards in just 11 plays, and Lawson carried the ball on eight of those plays, including runs of 10, 19, 17, 21, 15, and finally the final carry of the drive, a 16-yard run around the end for his third score of the game.
With 3:04 left in the third, Nettleton led 21-14, as the two- point conversion was successful on a Schaaf to Matt Akers pass.
The Badgers then used a trick reverse play on the ensuing kickoff to advance the ball all the way out to the Raider 36-yard line. But on second down and seven from the 17, quarterback Zack Kersey was intercepted and the Raiders took over at their own 24-yard line.
Desperately needing a defensive stop, the Badger defense was beginning to get worn down by running back Lawson.
The Raiders ran the ball down the field, and much time off the clock. Lawson once again concluded the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run. And with nine minutes left in the game, Beebe was now down 28-14.
But the Badgers could not get anywhere on their next possession, and a fourth down and 17-yard pass attempt was incomplete.
The Raiders took over at the Badger 30-yard line, and four plays later, Lawson ran in his fifth touchdown run of the night from 20 yards out to give the Raiders a 35-14 lead with 4:20 remaining on the clock.
The game would end with the 21-point advantage for the Raiders.
Beebe plays Batesville next week in a must-win game for any chance to advance into the playoffs, while Nettleton squares off against Wynn for a share of the conference championship.
Lawson would finish with 319 yards rushing on 37 attempts and five touchdowns for the Raiders. Of the 58 offensive plays the Raiders ran, Lawson touched the ball on 38 of those plays.
Beebe finished with 72 yards rushing and 206 yards passing.
Both teams committed three turnovers in the game.