By Chase Hartsell
This week, Arkadelphia was back on the road as they hoped to clinch back-to-back victories for the first time in 2021. On Friday night, the Badgers did just that, defeating the Haskell Harmony Grove Cardinals in a 42-19 win at Jimmy “Red” Parker Field.
Motivated by a homecoming crowd and a Saline River Showdown victory over Bauxite the week prior, Harmony Grove (2-5, 1-3) made a goal line stand on the opening drive of the game to hold the Badgers (4-3, 3-1) out of the end zone. Arkadelphia responded with a defensive stop of their own and, upon getting the ball back, marched right down the field for a touchdown, initiating a 21-0 scoring run. A crucial late-down conversion from the Cardinals helped them get on the board with six points of their own, but the Badgers answered with yet another 21-0 run to close out the first half. Harmony Grove would go on to put up 13 points over the course of the final two quarters, providing the contest with its final score.
Following a relatively quiet performance against Fountain Lake, running back Jaishon Davis made his presence felt early against the Cardinals. The senior, aided by an excellent Arkadelphia offense line, tallied 17 carries for 183 yards and three touchdowns. He also added a 13-yard reception, bringing him just shy of 200 total yards on the night. Davis opened the night’s scoring with a 13-yard touchdown run with 4:02 remaining in the first quarter. On the first play from scrimmage in the second quarter, he added a second score on a 22-yard carry. The Badgers’ leading rusher completed his hat trick with less than a minute left in the first half, bolting to the end zone for a 40-yard touchdown.
Reigning Badger Special Teams Player of the Week Braylon Bailey provided another impressive showing against Harmony Grove, consistently recording notable returns that set the Badgers up for scores. After a perfectly executed onside kick from senior Spencer Allen, Bailey would add a touchdown of his own on a strong 31-yard run, which occurred just 15 seconds after Davis’ first score. By the end of the night, the senior had collected 72 rushing yards on just three touches.
On a night that saw the Badgers pick up over 300 yards on the ground, Arkadelphia’s game plan called for fewer attacks through the air. Still, junior quarterback Donovan Whitten made the most of his six pass attempts, registering four completions for 90 yards and a touchdown. He was also a significant factor in the Badgers’ run game, dashing five times for 48 yards and another score. With Friday’s victory, Whitten has led Arkadelphia’s offense to put up 42 points or more in five of his first seven starts.
Despite a reduction in passing numbers, senior wideout Alex Loy continued to produce notable numbers. After earning Badger Offensive Player of the Week honors against Fountain Lake, Loy hauled in two catches for 69 yards and a touchdown, which came on a play that saw the senior secure a flawless 37-yard pass from Whitten in the back left corner of the end zone.
Sophomore DeAngelo Buckley contributed to Arkadelphia’s receiving corps with an 8-yard reception.
For the second week in a row, Arkadelphia held their opponent to less than 20 points while facing a unique offensive system. Facing Harmony Grove’s Diamond T offense, senior Landon Kuhn and sophomore KD Young led a strong defensive effort up front. Guided by the likes of junior Marveon Berry, the Badgers’ secondary also had an impressive showing.
With the loss, Harmony Grove falls to 1-3 in conference play and 2-5 overall. Next Friday, the Cardinals will have an opportunity to bounce back during a road matchup against the Nashville Scrappers.
Following Friday night’s win, the Badgers improve to 3-1 against conference opponents and 4-3 overall. Next week, Arkadelphia will return to Badger Stadium for a major clash with Ashdown. After narrowly escaping Nashville in a 26-21 road victory, the Panthers remain undefeated and tied atop the 7-4A standings with Robinson. Kickoff between Ashdown and Arkadelphia is set for 7:00 p.m. on October 22nd, and the game will be available to stream live on arkadelphiabadgertv.com.