Long And Short Of It — Bearcats Tame Lions
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Distance didn’t matter too much to the Booneville Bearcats during their 35-14 Class 4A second round playoff win Friday night over Hamburg at Bearcat Stadium.
The Bearcats (12-0) were equally adept at converting short fields into points as they were driving long yardage to do damage to the Lions (9-3).
Two plays into the game it was a short field because linebacker Bryson May recovered a fumble at the Lion 30-yard line.
One play was all it took from there as Josh Smith got outside and made his way into the end zone. Smith then added the extra point for a 7-0 lead. Smith would log six carries for 60 yards on the night.
Hamburg responded with a 35-yard Deandre Rachel run into Bearcat territory but on a fourth-and-11 May made sure the Lions didn’t convert when he stepped in front of a Cornelius Miller pass and returned it to the Bearcat 33.
An eight-play, 67 yard drive made it 14-0. Quarterback Cody Harrel had 23- and 25-yard carries – he finished the night with 12 carries for 90 yards – during the drive but it was May who went 2 yards for the touchdown to make it 14-0 with 4:06 left in the first quarter.
The Bearcats went the short route on their next possession because of a partially blocked punt that rolled dead at the Lion 48.
May got 11, Harrel 6, Matt Berry 24 and Harrel went 7 for the touchdown and it was 21-0 – the Lions had allowed 12 first quarter points in 11 games this season.
Forced to try again on the ensuing possession, Anthony Lacaze got a punt off and the Bearcats were forced to start from their own 19. An 81-yard drive would take just nine plays. May’s second touchdown run covered 7 yards and made it 28-0 with 3:36 left in the half.
Berry had the big play on the drive with a 45-yard run. Although he would not reach the end zone himself, Berry led the Bearcat rushing attack with 102 yards on 8 carries.
Hamburg mounted a last threat to get into the game over the next three minutes, converting a fourth down in Bearcat territory, but Michael Drawbaugh recovered a Lion fumble at the Bearcat 36 to end the threat.
Tyler Matthews caught a line drive at the Bearcat 48 on the second half opening kickoff and the Bearcats went on to enact the Arkansas Activities Association’s sportsmanship rule for the 10th in just four plays.
After considering punting on a fourth-and-3, head coach Scott Hyatt instead turned to “Thunder” and Justin Shackleford provided lightning. The junior went 45 yards for a touchdown run and it was 35-0 with 9:51 left in the third quarter.
Shackleford had 50 yards on the night as the Bearcats ran for 365 yards and averaged 7.2 yards per play.
Starting from their 34 on their next possession the Bearcats drove 60 yards again, but Smith’s field goal try of 26 yards went wide with 9:46 to play.
Starting from their 20, the Lions needed just three plays to score – after having gained only 92 yards to that point, the Lions would finish with 241. After an incomplete pass Kevin Miller ran for 58 and John Wilson went 22 for a touchdown to make it 35-7.
After a Bearcat punt the Lions scored in just two plays, both in the air. The scoring play was 29 yards from Timothy Morris to Rachal with 4:16 remaining.
The Bearcats kept the ball the rest of the game, thanks to a facemask penalty that moved the chains.
With the win the Bearcats earn a quarterfinal round game Friday against Lincoln. The Conference 4A-1 Wolves come into the game after consecutive wins against Conference 4A-7 teams Nashville and Malvern, the most recent a 41-21 win over Malvern in a game in which Tyler Cummings ran for 415 yards and six touchdowns.