SPORTS >>Falcons hang tough early, but Beebe prevails
Special to the Leader
As quickly as North Pulaski captured the momentum, the Beebe Badgers ripped it away. Beebe came back from a late-first quarter deficit to defeat the hosting Falcons 40-13 Friday night in a 5A-Southeast matchup.
The Badgers got another strong performance from senior fullback Sammy Williams on Friday. He carried 28 times for 239 yards and three touchdowns, and added another score on special teams on a 94-yard kickoff return for 333 all-purpose yards.
The Falcons scored on its second drive of the game when a quick throw down the right sideline to receiver Jerald Blair turned into an 89-yard touchdown that gave the Falcons a 7-0 lead with 3:45 left in the opening frame.
Beebe didn’t have to run a play to make it up. Senior Sammy Williams took the ensuing kickoff 94 yards untouched to tie the score. From there, Beebe would score 21 more unanswered points with the help of a couple more Falcon breakdowns to take command of the game.
“We were able to start rushing the ball pretty effectively in the second quarter and a lot of good things happened for us,” Beebe coach John Shannon said. “We played pretty good defense except for a couple of mistakes. Their No. 5 (Blair) is probably the fastest kid in our conference, and we told them all week you’re going to have to tackle and keep him contained, and we didn’t do that on a couple of plays.
“My hats off to North Pulaski though. This is the best North Pulaski team I’ve seen in the 14 years I’ve been in this area, and they went toe-to-toe with us in the first and third quarters.”
After the kickoff return, Beebe forced a three and out by North Pulaski and took possession to start the second quarter with the game still tied at seven. Less than a minute into the second, Williams broke loose again, this time on a handoff up the middle for 39 yards and the score.
The Falcons got a pair of first downs on the next possession, but were forced to punt. Badger nose guard William Conley stuffed an NP running play for a 2-yard loss on third down. On fourth down, Badger senior Jacob Sullivan broke through the line and blocked the kick and Beebe took over on the Falcon 22.
On the very next play, Williams broke through three tackles and scored to make it 21-7 with 8:26 left in the half.
North Pulaski gained nine yards on its next possession and punted from its own 42.
The Badgers took over on their own 28 put together their best sustained drive of the half, going 67 yards in seven plays. The drive ended when quarterback Roger Glaude found his right halfback Luke Gardner on a rollout to the right from 11 yards out. Glaude added his fourth extra point to make it 28-7 with 3:29 left in the half.
The final three and a half minutes of the half took almost as long as the first 26. Each team had two possessions in that span, and the Falcons made the most of their last one.
After each team went three and out, NP got the ball back on its own 37. On the first play, quarterback A.J. Allen hit sophomore fullback Darius Cage on a screen pass that Cage turned into a 60-yard play with the help of two lead blockers.
It took three more plays for NP to get the final three yards, but it did when Cage barely stretched the ball over the goal line on third and one. The extra point was blocked and Beebe led 28-13 with 55 seconds left in the half. The Badgers almost scored again. A 42-yard return by junior Victor Howell set Beebe up at the Falcon 44. Two plays gained 10 yards before junior receiver Charles Latture was stopped on the 6-yard line on the final play of the half.
After playing to a 7-7 tie in the first quarter, the two teams played to a 0-0 stalemate in the third period. Beebe put a clamp on the game early in the fourth when Williams scored his third touchdown of the game, this time from three yards out with 10:44 left in the game. The drive was helped by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on North Pulaski that turned a third down and five situation into first down at the Falcon 40.
“Those are the kinds of mistakes we can’t make,” North Pulaski coach Tony Bohannon said. “You take out the special teams’ breakdowns and it’s a different game, and you can’t give up penalties like that. Overall though I’m very proud of this team and the effort they’re giving. They went tooth and nail for most of the night with a very good football team.”
Beebe would add one more score with 7:12 remaining to set the final margin.
The Badgers had 435 yards of total offense. North Pulaski finished with 282 total yards.
The win lifts Beebe to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in league play. The Falcons fell to 1-4 and 0-2.
Both teams are at home next week. The Falcons will host White Hall while Beebe welcomes Monticello as homecoming guests next Friday.