Saturday, October 19, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers win big, display Royalty

Leader sportswriter

Homecoming 2013 was filled with all kinds of tradition for Beebe as the Badgers controlled the clock and the line of scrimmage in a decisive 35-12 victory over Blytheville at Bro Erwin Stadium on Friday to keep themselves alive in the fight for a playoff seed out of the 5A East Conference.

The Badgers (4-3, 3-1) also turned in a dominant performance on defense, led by bruising senior lineman Daniel Gann, who gave Chickasaw quarterback Terry Northern plenty of icepack-worthy moments in the second half. Blytheville took advantage of a short field near the end of the first half, and put up a last-minute score in the fourth quarter that cleaned up the scoreboard somewhat, but the rest was all Beebe.

Offensively, Beebe moved the ball methodically throughout most of the contest, though sophomore running backs Trip Smith and Ethan Franks broke through for long scoring runs that accounted for two of the Badgers’ scores.

“We knew they were down a little bit coming into the game,” Beebe coach John Shannon said. “But they played us tough defensively. They didn’t give us anything big. We had to earn everything we got. I thought the kids bounced back real well from last week over at Wynne, and we knew this was going to be a big game for us.”

Blytheville’s offensive numbers told the story of Beebe’s defensive dominance. The Chickasaws (1-6, 0-4) finished with 106 yards of total offense, including 32 yards at the end of the first half. Of their 37 plays from scrimmage, 12 resulted in negative yardage.

There were several factors that prevented Blytheville from maintaining any kind of consistency on offense, namely penalties, turnovers and Gann. Gann sacked Northern for an 11-yard loss late in the third quarter to give the Chicks a third and 26 at the 50-yard line to essentially kill a promising drive, and brought him down for another loss early in the third to cause a fumble at the Blytheville 10. That brought up a fourth-and-23 situation for the Chickasaws.

“He’s been a three-year starter,” Shannon said. “He’s been solid for us. He’s not the biggest kid in the world on the defensive line, but he can do a lot of things other kids can’t do with his body.”

The Badgers made their way to the Blytheville 11-yard line on their first possession before turning the ball over on downs. The Chickasaws gave it right back when Northern’s completed pass to Caleb Brown ended up a fumble, which junior Colton Gibbs recovered for Beebe.

They did not miss the next opportunity, going 37 yards in six plays, ending with a 16-yard touchdown run by Smith at the 1:08 mark of the first quarter. Tyler Jones added the extra point to give Beebe a 7-0 lead.

Smith put the Badgers up 14-0 with a 5-yard scoring run with 3:52 remaining in the first half, and scored again from a yard out with 1:18 left to play in the first half. In all, Smith carried 30 times for 186 yards and three touchdowns. Beebe had 330 yards of total offense.

“I told him back in the summer to get ready to carry the ball 30 times a game,” Shannon said. “I think he thought I was kidding, but I think he’s about to realize we’re going to give it to him 30 times a game if we can. He turned in another great performance tonight.”

The Badgers also established the pace to start the second half, taking the opening possession 48 yards in 11 plays, ending with a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Jessie Glover to give Beebe a 28-6 lead. Franks added Beebe’s last score with 5:24 remaining when he broke free up the middle and went 45 yards untouched to put the Badgers up 35-6.

“You worry about homecoming, and all the distractions that go on all week long,” Shannon said. “But we talked starting on Sunday about the ballgame being the most important thing, and I thought the kids handled it really well. I thought we had a great week of practice, I thought we came back and focused after what happened last week over at Wynne, and I think it carried over into tonight.”

Beebe will travel to Greene County Tech next week.