Saturday, November 09, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Batesville pounds Beebe again

Leader sportswriter

Senior night was a bust for Beebe as visiting Batesville piled it on in a 45-14 Pioneer victory at Bro Erwin Stadium on Friday to wrap up the 5A East Conference championship with an unbeaten record.

Beebe (5-5, 4-3) was not able to establish momentum offensively due to an irksome Pioneer defensive line that invaded the line of scrimmage quickly off the ball and held the Badgers to short gains and some plays for losses.

With the victory, Batesville will enter next week’s 5A state playoffs as the No. 1 seed out of the 5A East with a home playoff game, while the Badgers will have to go on the road as the No. 4 seed out of the East. Beebe will play Alma, which went through the 5A West conference unbeaten to earn the top seed.

Batesville (8-2, 7-0) cashed in on a series of big plays, but also did its share of clock management with sustained drives. The Pioneers scored on all five of their first-half drives to take a commanding 31-7 lead at halftime, and put the game away with two more touchdowns in the second half, including their final one with 4:52 remaining to put the score at 45-7 and start the sportsmanship-timing rule.

“We knew they were real good coming in,” Beebe coach John Shannon said. “Hats off to them. They do a fantastic job each and every year. They play us tough every year. It’s very tough for us to move the football. We were really short handed tonight, but it would have been tough even if we were 100 percent against Batesville. They’re a really good football team.”

The Badgers did catch a lucky break that resulted in their biggest offensive play of the night when junior quarterback Micah Dubois threw a pass to senior receiver Jesse Crisco that was tipped by Batesville defender Eli Childress. The pass was initially off target, but the tip by Childress gave Crisco time to adjust and come back to the ball, and from there, he went 60 yards to give Beebe its first score with 7:02 remaining in the first half and cut the Pioneers’ lead to 17-7.

Batesville loaded the box against Beebe’s Dead-T offense most of the night, but the Pioneers still had enough team speed to deny the outside option game. The Badgers tried the option with no success in both halves on sweeps that ended up for no gain or lost yardage.

“We’ve got to be able to run the option,” Shannon said. “We didn’t do a very good job tonight. We’ve got to get better at it, because when you face teams this time of year, they’re all pretty good teams, and if all you can do is run off tackle and the dive, good teams can take that away. You’ve got to have that third option.”

Badger fans did get a glimpse of the future in the final minute as Shannon began using some of the freshmen players who moved up from the ninth-grade team. The junior Badgers clinched a conference championship earlier in the week, and five of those standouts dressed out on Friday night for the first time.

That included fullback Xavier Jones, who put the final points up for Beebe when he scored from 12 yards out with 1:55 to go to make it 45-14 after Tyler Jones added a point-after kick.

“Those ninth graders did a good job,” Shannon said. “They won their conference championship Tuesday night, and we feel like they’re going to be a really good group. Any time we feel like we have ninth graders who are physically ready to move up and help us, we’re going to give them a shot.

“Xavier, he’s a special kid. You don’t see too many ninth graders who are 6-4 and 230 pounds like that. Hopefully, we’ll have him for a few more years to go along with what we’ve already got coming back.”

Batesville settled for a 32-yard field goal by Osvaldo Espericueta on its first drive to take an early 3-0 lead, and extended it to 10-0 early in the second quarter on a 50-yard touchdown run by Jaylen Haynes. Childress made it 17-0 when he scored from 36 yards out on a rush at the 8:26 mark of the second quarter.

Quarterback Kenton Crawford found Riley Caroway for a 46-yard touchdown just over two minutes later, and Crawford called his own number in the closing seconds of the half on a 13-yard touchdown run that made it 31-7 at intermission.

Sophomore Trip Smith led the Badgers offensively with 29 carries for 146 yards. Beebe had 216 yards of total offense. For Batesville, Haynes led all rushers with 8 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Crawford was 5 of 10 passing for 119 yards and two touchdowns. The Pioneers had 464 yards of total offense.