Punt return. Josh Smith is set to hand off to Matt Berry on this first quarter punt return Friday night. Berry returned the punt 33 yards
Smothering defense. Gravette was held to just 6 yards of offense in the first half while the Bearcats built a 41-0 lead on the way to a 41-24 win Friday night at Bearcat Stadium.
They say numbers don’t lie but they can be misinterpreted, as Booneville’s 41-24 win over Gravette in nonconference action Friday night attests.
Someone might look at a 41-24 final and think, at least at times, it was a competitive game. In reality, it wasn’t.
Someone could also think that the offense had a good night. To a point, for sure, but it was the Bearcat defense that dominated the game. The longest the Bearcat offense had to drive all night was 62 yards.
In fact, the first play from scrimmage was a 5-yard loss and the Bearcats would punt on that possession. Then the defense took over.
A Josh Smith interception gave the Bearcats the ball at their 46 for their second possession and six plays later Bryson May went 5 yards for a touchdown at the 2:45 mark of the first quarter. Landon Vance misfired on the point after try.
Extra points will be the one area Hyatt is likely to stress this week. After being perfect on six tries in the opener – Cody Harrel added another – Vance missed three straight this week before adding the final point of the night.
Matt Berry returned a Lion punt 33 yards but coughed up the ball but a teammate recovered it to set up the second score. Berry made amends by running 6 yards for the touchdown to make it 14-0. May ran for an extra two points.
Gravette had, potentially, their best play of the first half on the final play of the first quarter but it was wiped out by an ineligible receiver down field penalty and the Lions started the second quarter with Wyatt Banta being intercepted for the second time – this time by Berry.
Smith ran 14 yards for a touchdown the next play and it was 20-0.
After three straight possessions ending in punts the Bearcats took over at their 38 with 6:26 left in the first half. It took just 2:01 for the lead to grow to 28-0.
The big play was a 43-yard Harrel to Berry pass and May followed it up with his second 5-yard touchdown run – the fullback finished with 91 yards on 13 carries. Ray ran for the extra two to make it 28-0.
Rather than provide its offense with field position, the Bearcat defense took things into its own hands one play after the kickoff as Michael Springs sacked Kyler Bunch and forced a fumble in the process. May picked up the loose ball and rumbled 29 yards for a touchdown to make it 34-0 with 4:13 left in the half.
Gravette would manage only 6 yards of offense in the entire first half, 3 came on 13 running plays and 3 on a single completion. For the night the Bearcat defense had five stops for losses, half credited to Justin Shackleford.
Ray moved to quarterback after a fourth Gravette punt. A 38-yard run by May got the Bearcats to the Gravette 6 late in the half and Berry scored his second touchdown two plays later from the 2 and Vance added the PAT to make it 41-0.
Hardly to the point the first half belonged to Booneville, but the second half was all Gravette.
The Bearcats started with a three-and-punt – only 25 yards by Darren Shaffer – and Gravette needed to go only 37 yards to get on the scoreboard. Cedric Duarte, who ran for 161 yards in week 1, went 5 yards for the touchdown to make it 41-6 – Gravette would have zero conversion points. Duarte had 18 yards Friday.
Shaeffer was set to punt again on the ensuing possession but a bobbled snap and scramble gave Gravette the ball back at the Bearcat 31 for another short drive.
Byrce Moorman hit Shay Shimer for 24 yards and a touchdown to make it 41-12.
The Lions scored again with 4:45 to go on a 2-yard Moorman run to make it 41-18 then got a gift with a fumble recovery on the ensuing kickoff.
Moorman threw 39 yards to Garrett Bray in the final minute to set the final at 41-24.
The Bearcats will close out the nonconference portion of their slate Friday night when the host Star City. The Bulldogs are 2-0 after a 35-0 win over Camden Harmony Grove.