Saturday, November 15, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers win in crazy one

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers won a roller coaster ride against the Nettleton Raiders on Friday, beating the 5A-East three seed 49-48 at Bro Erwin Stadium and advancing to the quarterfinal round of the Class 5A football playoffs.

Things were coming easy for Beebe early. Nettleton committed two quick turnovers and Beebe, 7-4, found itself with a 21-0 lead just a little more than halfway through the first quarter. But Beebe returned the favor in the third quarter, losing two of three fumbles and trailing 34-28 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. That set up a wild ending that saw the two teams trading heavyweight blows until the Badgers finally sealed it when junior cornerback Connor Patrom intercepted a pass with 2:56 remaining.

“We both committed some big turnovers,” said Beebe coach John Shannon. “I told my guys that they were due for another one and to just hang in there. Connor got beat a couple of times when they made some adjustments and we had to leave him one on one with that big receiver they have. But he made the play that needed to be made when it really counted. He’s our best cover guy and I was happy to see him make the play there at the end.”

Safety Jo’Vaughn Wyrick started the madness with a 35-yard interception return for a pick-6 on the third play of the game, giving Beebe a 7-0 lead with 10:57 left in the quarter. Beebe’s Hunter King then sacked Nettleton quarterback Jaylin Small to start the next drive, and the Raiders punted on fourth and 11.

Beebe wasted little time scoring again. Clayton Meurer went 17 yards on second and 5, and Wyrick went 31 two plays later. Fullback Trip Smith got the last 3 and Tyler Jones added the extra point to make it 14-0 with 7:27 left in the opening quarter.

Meurer then stepped in front of a Small pass on the fifth play of the ensuing possession, giving the Badgers the ball on their own 47. Smith went 40 yards on the first play and Wyrick got the last 10 for a 21-0 Badger lead.

Nettleton took over from there, and were threatening to run away with the game as Beebe’s offense began to stall.

The Raiders answered the third touchdown with a seven-play drive, scoring on fourth and goal from the 4 on an inside slant to 6-foot-4 receiver Stanley Wilson. The Badgers went three and out and punted. Nettleton then went 56 yards in six plays, scoring on a Joe Frazier plunge from a yard out and making it 21-14 with 10:42 left until halftime.

Beebe answered back by going 90 yards in 14 plays and chewing up eight minutes of clock. Wyrick got his third touchdown with a 14-yard run to put Beebe up by two touchdowns.

Nettleton scored again on a 6-yard scramble by Small. The extra point was no good, leaving it 28-20 at halftime.

Wyrick returned the second half opening kickoff 40 yards to the Nettleton 47, but Beebe fumbled an option play on the first snap, giving the Raiders the ball on their own 49. Frazier carried four times for 46 yards and scored from 7 out. Small kept for the two-point conversion that tied the game with 9:36 left in the third.

Beebe had a nice drive going, moving from its own 30 to Nettleton’s 22 in just five plays. Meurer had a 33-yard run for most of the yardage. An offsides penalty set up first and 5 at the 22, but Nunez fumbled the snap for a 3-yard loss. On second down, Wyrick fumbled after about an 8-yard gain. Nettleton recovered and returned it to the 33, where it took over with 6:12 left in the third.

The Raiders needed 11 plays to go that distance, with Wilson catching a 3-yard pass over Patrom with two minutes left in the third. The extra point missed, leaving it 34-28.

Beebe took over on its own 20 after the kickoff went into the end zone. On the third play, Wyrick broke loose for 74 yards, breaking two tackles in the open field and scoring with 34 seconds remaining in the quarter. Jones’ extra point put the Badgers in front. The two teams traded touchdowns the whole fourth quarter, and Jones’ consistency proved to be the difference.

Nettleton scored two minutes into the fourth on a 33-yard reception by Montel Moore, but missed another extra point to make it 40-35 Raiders. Wyrick returned the next kick 40 yards to the Nettleton 48. Smith got 16 yards on first down and Meurer got the rest on the next play, making it 42-40 with 9:06 remaining.

Beebe almost had Nettleton stopped on the next drive, but busted a coverage on third and 13. Moore was left running all alone between the hash marks and Small hit him in stride for a 47-yard touchdown with 8:01 remaining in the game. This time, Nettleton converted a two-point try to Wilson to take a 48-42 lead.

Beebe’s game-winning drive started at the 35. The Badgers picked up 4 to 6 yards a play, chewing up the clock before Smith burst through for a 31-yard touchdown run with 4:02 remaining. Jones calmly added the extra point to give the Badgers the lead.

Nettleton took over at the 26, but after 18 yards in two plays, Patrom stepped in front of a pass meant for Wilson for the game-sealing interception.

Nettleton out gained Beebe 485 to 471. All the Badgers’ yards came on the ground with no pass attempts.

Smith led all rushers with 26 carries for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Wyrick had 10 carries for 158 yards and three scores, and Meurer made it a 100-yard trio with eight carries for exactly 100 yards and a score. Wyrick added 116 return yards and another touchdown to finish with 274 total yards and four scores.

The Badgers will travel to 5A-South champion Hot Springs next Friday. The Trojans beat Little Rock Christian Academy 47-35 in the first round.