Big second quarter lifts Badgers to big win

By CHRIS BABB | The Arkadelphian

A week after needing last-second heroics to secure a win, the Arkadelphia Badgers took care of things much earlier Friday night in a 49-6 win over the Arkansas High Razorbacks at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium.

With the win, Arkadelphia moved to 3-0 to finish the non-conference portion of the schedule. Arkansas High fell to 1-2.

Nykkisson Wimberly (56), Chase Vantilborg (17, and Marveon Berry (44) converge on a Texarkana ball carrier Friday night in the first quarter of the Badgers’ 49-6 win over the Razorbacks. | Photo by Melissa Thomason

After a rather slow start to the first quarter for both teams, Arkadelphia opened the scoring with a nine-yard pass from Donovan Whitten to LaTonnieo Hughes on fourth and goal. Broc Currey’s extra point made it 7-0 and was the only score of the first quarter from either team.

The Badgers made up for the slow first-quarter start by scoring 35 points in the second quarter. Arkadelphia scored four touchdowns in less than five minutes of playing time and then added a late score to take a 42-0 lead into the halftime break invoking the AAA Good Sportsmanship Rule which resulted in a running clock in the second half.

The second-quarter scoring included four offensive touchdowns and a defensive touchdown on a blocked punt for the Badgers. Arkansas High was hurt by turnovers and the penalties in the second quarter. The majority of the 15 penalties called on the Razorbacks in the game came in the second quarter and several were for big yardage, putting Arkansas High behind the chains offensively most of the night.

The first score came on a three-yard pass from Whitten to junior running back DeAngleo Buckley out of the backfield after the Arkadelphia defense forced an Arkansas High punt. On the ensuing Razorback possession, Arkansas high punted from inside their own 20 yard-line and Arkadelphia junior defensive lineman blocked the punt into the end zone where senior linebacker Marveon Berry hopped on it for a Badger touchdown. Whitten’s two-point conversion was good to give the Badgers a 21-0 lead.

The hits kept coming for the Badger defense as junior defensive back Kelbern Middleton intercepted a Razorback pass, setting up another short field for Arkadelphia. The Badger offense capitalized off of the turnover and went up 28-0 after the first of three touchdowns from sophomore running back Kyle Reed on a seven-yard run up the middle.

After a dead ball penalty was called on the Razorbacks, the Badgers set up for the kickoff at the Arkansas High 45-yard line. Currey’s onside kick took a long hop after bouncing off of players in traffic and Ja’Quavus Purifoy finally secured the loose ball inside the Razorback 10-yard line, giving the Badgers a short field yet again.

The Badgers ended the short drive with a touchdown, but it wasn’t until fourth down. Whitten rolled out to his left and had two receivers to choose from. Senior receiver Tripp Campbell’s route to the back of the end zone put separation between himself and the defender, allowing Whitten to complete the touchdown pass to Campbell. Currey’s point after made the score 35-0 in favor of Arkadelphia.

The Arkadelphia defense forced its fourth punt of the first half after a quick three and out, setting up the Badgers with good field position and enough time left in the half to score. 

Arkadelphia didn’t waste much time as Reed scored his second touchdown of the night and his high school career on a 51-yard run up the middle through the middle of the Razorback defense on the second play of the drive. Currey again drilled the extra point making the score 42-0.

The second half saw one score for each team. For the Badgers, Reed added his third touchdown of the night on a 52-yard catch and score on a screen pass from sophomore quarterback Javion Garner on the first drive of the second half for Arkadelphia.

Arkansas High got its only score of the night on the last play of the game as Nate Wall found wide receiver Travion Parker on a fade route to the back corner of the end zone.

Despite scoring 49 points, the offensive numbers weren’t what might be expected with the point total. The Badger starters only played one half and with the running clock, Arkadelphia only had the ball twice in the second half.

Whitten was 11 of 19 for 111 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. Reed ran the ball four times for 64 yards and two touchdowns and had one catch, the 52-yard screen pass for a touchdown. Reed’s five touches on the night accounted for 116 of the Badgers’ 276 yards of offense in the game.

Hughes caught four passes for 59 yards and one touchdown for the Badgers. Buckley ran for 39 yards and had 32 yards receiving and the one touchdown.

The Badger defense got production from several players on the night. Junior linebacker Chase Vantilborg led the team in total tackles with seven, two of which were for losses. Nick Williams added six tackles for Arkadelphia.

Senior linebacker Marveon Berry added five tackles and one quarterback hurry to go with his recovery of the loose ball on the blocked punt.

The Badgers will be off this week in the first of three open weeks in the 2022 schedule. The next game for the Badgers will be Friday, September 23, in the 4A-7 conference opener at Scrapper Stadium in Nashville.

4A-7 vs 5A South final tally

Last week, we mentioned that the 4A-7 was 5-1 against teams from the 5A South. Friday night improved that record as teams from the 4A-7 went 4-0 against the 5A South. Along the Badgers’ win over Arkansas High, Malvern defeated Lakeside, Nashville defeated DeQueen, and Ashdown defeated Hope. The 4A-7 finished the season 9-1 against teams from the 5A South. 

First open week for Badgers

This week is the first of three Friday nights the rest of the season the Badgers won’t have a game. This week’s open date has become the norm since the Arkansas Activities Association added a week to the beginning of the schedule, giving teams four weeks to play three non-conference games. Arkadelphia has played in weeks zero, one and two and then used week three as an open date to prepare for conference play for the last several years.

As mentioned earlier in this story on this site, Arkadelphia only has eight games on the 2022 schedule due to Fountain Lake and Genoa Central playing 8-man football this season. 

For the rest of the season, Arkadelphia will not have a stretch of more than two weeks in a row in which the Badgers will play a game. The five-game 4A-7 conference schedule begins on September 23rd at Nashville. After the Homecoming game on Sept. 30, the Badgers will have another open date before playing Waldron and Ashdown. The final open week will come the week before the regular season finale at Malvern.

Inside Badger football with Trey Shucker

The OBU Rogers Department of Communications and the Ouachita Sports Digital Network are again producing “Inside Badger Football with Trey Schucker” each week after a game during the 2022 season. Produced by the department for over 30 years, the show takes a look back at the previous game highlights, announces the Players of the Week and takes a look at the 4A-7 teams and upcoming Badger game. 

The host of the show is Chase Hartsell, a junior Communications and Media/Sports Media  major at Ouachita and color commentator on Badger broadcasts for the last two years.

The show can be viewed each week on the APSD-TV YouTube Channel. Shows are posted on either Wednesday or Thursday following each game week.

Back home for the rest of the season

Many Badger fans over the age of 35 have had somewhat of a Homecoming the last two weeks as Arkadelphia played at Henderson State’s Carpenter-Haygood Stadium. The stadium was the home of the Badgers from 1968-2001 before Badger Stadium was built on the AHS campus.

Due to the delay in the replacement of the artificial turf at Badger Stadium this summer, the Badgers returned to the old home for the first two home games of the season.

This week, Arkadelphia football will return to its new home as the installation of the new turf of AllCare Field at Badger Stadium is nearing completion according to APSD Administration. The plans are for the first game to be played on the turf to be this Thursday’s junior high games.

In a statement on the APSD Athletic Department’s Facebook page, the department thanked HSU for its cooperation over the last two months:

The Arkadelphia Badger Athletic Dept. would like to sincerely thank Athletic Director Shawn Jones and his staff, Head Football Coach Scott Maxfield and Henderson State University for their gracious hospitality over the last month. They have gone above and beyond to make sure we had everything we needed to practice and play games these past few weeks. We are truly thankful for their generosity.”

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