SPORTS >>Badgers come up short
Leader sports editor
It went down to the final two minutes and Beebe almost came back, but the Badgers couldn’t complete the game of catchup they tried to play all night against the Blytheville Chickasaws. In a battle of undefeated 5A-East teams, Blytheville went home with a 32-22 victory in a very entertaining scrap.
Blytheville’s extreme size advantage, along with a perfectly timed and executed play action with 2:02 left in the game did the Badgers in. The touchdown turned a 24-22 game into a practically insurmountable lead with ittle time on the clock.
“Beebe did a tremendous job against our passing game,” Blytheville coach Doug Quinn said. “We still have confidence though. We run the ball, that’s what we do, but we feel like in order to be as effective as we need to be, we need to have some play action, and we executed at the end when we had to have it.”
D.J. Allen ran in the two-point conversion, Blytheville’s first successful one of the night, to set the final margin.
Although a comeback wasn’t likely, it didn’t mean the Badgers wouldn’t try. Beebe attempted three passes downfield, but all were incomplete, giving the ball back to the Chickasaws, who took a knee to run out the clock.
Beebe coach John Shannon wasn’t pleased with his team’s execution at all times, but did express pride in the fact that his team never quit.
“They’ve shown that kind of heart all year,” Shannon said. “They never quit against Vilonia; tonight they made some plays to keep that last drive going. I told them, one sign of a championship team is a team that will get right back up after getting knocked down that first time. So we’re going to back to work.”
Trailing 24-15, Beebe put together a thrilling drive that took well over half of the fourth quarter. The drive started with 11:54 left in the game when Joseph Barrick covered a Melvin Brooks fumble on the Badger 16-yard line.
Three plays left Beebe facing fourth and three from the 20, but the Chicks committed pass interference on the fourth-down pass, giving Beebe new life at the 38-yard line.
After runs by Sammy Williams and Kyle Williams, Beebe had third and one, but failed to snap the ball before the play clock expired. Badger quarterback Charlie Spakes was sacked for a 6-yard loss on third down, making it fourth and 12 from the 36-yard line.
Spakes was under heavy pressure again, and was being hit when he got the pass off. Josh Turner made an outstanding catch coming back to the ball, stepping in front of Blytheville defender to make the catch, then turning up field and running for the first down. The play went for 24 yards, and 5-yard face mask penalty tacked on gave Beebe first down at the Blytheville 35. Three running plays gave Beebe first down at the Blytheville 23. Spakes then hit Turner for 9 yards, Sammy Williams rushed for 4 to make it first and goal at the 10. Spakes then found Brandon Pursell from 10 yards out for the score. The extra point made it 24-22 with 5:05 left.
Beebe carried the momentum to the defensive side of the ball, gang tackling Blytheville’s Darnell Humphrey for a 2-yard loss. Brooks then gained five yards on second down. On third down, with everyone expecting pass, the Chickasaws executed a draw play in which Brooks carried up the middle for 12 yards and the first down. Facing another third and seven and a Beebe team that had just used its last timeout, quarterback Gabriel Osagie put a big dent in Beebe’s comeback hopes by avoiding a sack and scrambling 14 yards for a first down. On the next play, Osagie found Trey Woods in the end zone from 34 yards out to seal the win.
“The momentum had shifted and they had it,” Quinn said. “That was a huge run that Melvin made on third down, and that was a huge run by Gabe. This team was here two years ago in a game that was breaking down just like this one and lost it 22-20. That’s the difference in a team full of sophomores and a team full of seniors. This team is learning how to make the plays in championship type ball games. I’m so proud of them.”
At the start of the game, Blytheville made it look like it was going to be easy. The Chickasaws forced Beebe to three plays and out on the first drive of the game, then shoved the ball down the field on offense with little difficulty.
Starting from its own 18-yard line, Blytheville went 82 yards in just seven plays, picking up yardage in big chunks on the way. None were bigger than the first play, when fullback Melvin Brooks went 38 yards around the left side for a first down at the Beebe 44.
Three plays later, Brooks went 24 more, and halfback D.J. Allen got the final 9 yards on third and eight. The extra point was missed and the Chickasaws led 6-0 with 6:22 left in the first quarter.
Beebe answered. Three carries by Sammy Williams left the Badgers facing another fourth down, this time from three yards out. Beebe decided to go for it, and after two Blytheville timeouts, finally got the snap off, and again it was Williams, who converted the big play by gaining four yards, just enough for the first down at the Badger 40.
It became an even bigger conversion two plays later. After a 1-yard run by Josh Turner, Williams broke loose down the left sideline and raced 59 yards for the touchdown. Roger Glaude added the extra point to give the Badgers a 7-6 lead with 3:23 left in the quarter.
It remained that way until the waning seconds of the half. The two teams tried to go to the air in ensuing possessions, and neither had much luck. Each team was sacked at least once, and each team lost a fumble on a quarterback scramble on back-to-back plays. Glaude covered a Gabriel Osagie fumble after Osagie was forced to scramble and hit 10 yards downfield.
On the very next play, Spakes was nailed in the back by Blytheville nose guard Marquez Nesby and lost the ball. Blytheville covered and took over on its own 46-yard line with 4:10 left in the half.
The Chickasaws went back to the ground and got to the Beebe 23 yard line on an 11-yard run by ?? Woods. From there, the Chicks had to overcome two penalties that negated big gains. The first was an illegal shift penalty that wave off a 12-yard gain by Brooks. On the next play, Osagie kept for 23 yards to Beebe 5, but it was also called back for holding. Facing first and 25 from the 38-yard line, Blytheville got 13 yards on a draw play from Brooks on first down, three yards by wingback Darnell Humphrey, and 22 on another keeper by Osagie for the score with 25 seconds left in the half.
Blytheville converted the initial two pointer, but was called for another illegal shift. The attempt from 8 yards out was unsuccessful, leaving the Chicks with a 12-7 lead.
Beebe’s Kyle Williams gave the Badgers a shot at the end zone with a 30-yard return to the Blytheville 46. After two incomplete passes and a 5-yard face mask penalty on Blytheville, Spakes’ last pass to the end zone became a jump ball between Jordan Anderson and safety Garrett Howard, which the 6-foot-3 Howard won, intercepting the pass in the end zone to end the half.
Blytheville scored on its first possession of the second half to make it 18-7, capping the drive with a 21-yard pass from Osagie to Jarvis Jones.
Blytheville then covered a surprise on-side kick at midfield, but fumbled it away on the first play. The ball was kicked, batted and bobbled all the way back to the 22-yard line where Beebe’s Chris Blundell fell on it to set the Badgers up with good field position. Williams kept the drive alive when he caught a 10-yard pass on fourth and 1. He then ran 15 yards for first and goal at the 2. Two more carries were needed to finish the drive, with Williams getting both for a yard each. Turner caught a pass for the two-point conversion to make it 18-15 with 4:25 left in the third quarter.
Brooks led all rushers with 155 yards on 19 carries. Sammy Williams totaled 136 yards on 23 carries.
The Badgers will travel to Greene County Tech next week.
Blytheville will host another huge East game next week when they take on Batesville.