Saturday, October 18, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Defense lifts Badgers

Special to The Leader

Compared to last week, it was a gorgeous night for football as the Beebe Badgers traveled to Wilbur D. Mills Stadium Friday night to face the Mills University Studies Comets. Each team entered the contest 1-2 in 5A Central Conference play and hoped to even that record to stay in the play-off race.

It was the Badgers that ended the night with a hard fought 21-7 victory to go 2-2 in conference play and 2-5 overall. Mills fell to 1-3 and 2-5 overall.

“The defense played great,” said Beebe head coach John Shannon. “That’s three weeks in a row our defense has really stepped it up. I’m so proud of those guys. The offense has got to be able to punch it in when we have opportunities, and we didn’t do that tonight and let them hang around and hang around. But (the defense) kept stepping up. Offensively, we ran the football and we pounded and grounded and were able to squeak out enough points to get us a good victory tonight.”

The Beebe offense had a total of 289 yards, while the defense held the Comets to 165 yards, 84 of those on one pop when Mills scored their only touchdown. Tripp Smith led the Badgers with 138 yards rushing and one touchdown, while Clayton Meurer and Jovaughn Wyrick had 68 yards and one touchdown each. Calen Peters had 122 yards for Mills, including the 84-yard touchdown scamper.

Beebe received the opening kick off, and Meurer returned it to the Badger 36-yard line. With Aaron Nunez in the game at quarterback, Smith ran for 13 yards on first down, but the Comets then forced a punt. Mills gave the ball right back as the punt was fumbled and recovered by Beebe’s Reese Anders on the Mills 26-yard line. On third and one, Smith picked up nine yards to the 8-yard line, and Meurer carried the ball from there for the touchdown. Tyler Jones added the extra point for a 7-0 Badger lead with 6:38 to go in the first quarter.

The lead did not last long as Peters took the ball the other way 84 yards on the first play from scrimmage for the touchdown. Nathan Millsap’s extra point was good for the 7-7 tie with 6:12 to go in the quarter.

Meurer returned the kick off to the 37-yard line this time, and with Justin Burlison at quarterback this drive, the Badgers marched down the field on a 13-play drive. On first and goal from the 5, Smith ran the ball into the end zone for the score. Jones’ PAT made the score 14-7 with 0:13 to go in the first quarter.

Mills got the ball for only their second possession on their own 28-yard line. The Comets moved the ball to the Beebe 40-yard line before a fumble occurred, and Hunter King recovered for the Badgers.

With Nunez back leading the way, Beebe picked up three first downs and drove to the Comet 17-yard line, but was unable to convert on fourth down and turned the ball over to the home team.

After forcing a Comet short punt, the Badger offense was on the Mills 36-yard line. Again, the ball went over on downs as Beebe was unable to take advantage of the field position and the first half ended with the 14-7 Badger lead.

Beebe’s first possession of the second half again came as a result of a short Mills punt and began on the Mills 48-yard line. This time the offense moved all the way to the 1-yard line and turned the ball over on a fumble with first and goal.

The Badger defense held again and forced another short punt from the end zone that gave the offense the ball on the Comet 25-yard line. Again Beebe could not take advantage and turned the ball over on downs.

Peters had a 10-yard gain for the Comets, but then was tackled in the backfield for a 17- yard loss by Dusty Grier. On fourth and 23, Mills quarterback Kwan Armond was almost intercepted, but instead the Comets were forced to punt.

The Badger offense had moved from their own 47-yard line to the Mills 42, when Wyrick broke free and took the ball all the way from there for the touchdown. Jones again added the extra point and set the final score at 21-7 with 6:57 to go in the contest.

The Comets Armond had completed a 30-yard pass to Allen Murphy to move the ball to the Beebe 32-yard line, but when Armond attempted a pass to the end zone, it was intercepted by Meurer for the touchback to end the threat.

Mills had one more opportunity, but on fourth and 7, Jesse Crisco tackled Armond for a 3-yard loss, giving the ball over to the Badgers.

Beebe will host the LR J.A. Fair War Eagles next Friday night at Bro Erwin Stadium.