By CHRIS BABB | The Arkadelphian
NASHVILLE — A 27-0 second half changed the game from a back-and-forth affair to a 49-12 sportsmanship-rule win for the Arkadelphia Badgers (4-0, 1-0) over the Nashville Scrappers (2-2, 0-1) Friday night in the 4A-7 conference opener for both teams at Scrapper Stadium.
The game was a tale of two halves as the teams jockeyed for momentum in the first half. The Scrappers opened the scoring with a Tre Hopkins touchdown run with 4:18 left in the first quarter to go up 6-0 after the point after was missed.
Arkadelphia responded with a drive that lasted 2:18, culminating with a scoring pass to senior receiver LaTonnieo Hughes that went down as a 42-yard touchdown, but happened after senior quarterback Donovan Whitten escaped a rush, rolled to his right and threw the ball on the run from the 45-yard line and hit Hughes in stride right at the goal line as he came across from the left side of the field.
The Badgers extended the lead early in the second quarter on a three-yard touchdown run from sophomore running back Kyle Reed. The play was set up by a 42-yard pass from Whitten to Evan Bailey after Bailey made an adjustment to a throw from Whitten that left his hand just before the rush of the Scrapper defensive line could get to him. Bailey secured the pass and gave the Badgers a first and goal situation that Reed capped off two plays later.
The Scrappers wouldn’t go away in the first half, though, as Hopkins’ second score of the night pulled Nashville to within three points at 15-12 with 2:15 left in the second quarter.
Arkadelphia defensive back Nick Williams blocked the Scrapper extra point. The momentum quickly shifted back to the visitors’ sideline at Scrapper Stadium as Hughes took the ensuing kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown. Hughes escaped traffic and broke a tackle at the Badger 25-yard line, found a seam and hit the sideline, outrunning the Scrapper coverage team. That quickly gave the Badgers a 22-12 lead and would be the last time Nashville was within 10 points.
The Scrappers put together a two-minute drive to try to cut into the Badger lead before halftime and almost got in the red zone.
Facing a second down and 10 from the Arkadelphia 31, Scrapper quarterback Sloan Perrin was looking to hit a receiver on a crossing route, but Williams intercepted the pass, ending the Nashville scoring threat.
The second half was all Arkadelphia.
The Badger defense held Nashville scoreless and limited the Scrapper offense. Nashville was only able to manage one first down in the third quarter and ended that drive with the Badgers forcing a throw out of bounds on fourth down ad seven from the Arkadelphia 33.
The offense was just as successful as the defense in the second half.
The Badgers scored touchdowns on each of their possessions in the third quarter with each drive being capped off by short scoring runs from Reed who ended the night with three rushing touchdowns. The touchdown on the second drive of the quarter was set up by a 35-yard run from sophomore Ja’Quavus Purifoy out of the backfield.
The closest the Badgers were to having a drive stall came with 9:30 left in the fourth quarter when Arkadelphia faced a third down and 21 from their own 31-yard line.
Whitten got tremendous protection from his offensive line, dropped back, and hit Hughes in stride at the Arkadelphia 48-yard line in front of the Arkadelphia sideline on an out and up route and Hughes outran the Scrapper defense to the end zone. Broc Currey’s extra point put the game out of reach at 42-12. Arkadelphia added the final score of the night with just under six minutes left when Whitten escaped pressure and was able to weave his way to the end zone for a touchdown.
Badgers vs. Scrappers stats
The Badger defense finished the game with four players registering double digits in tackles. The defense also had four quarterback sacks, 1 forced fumble, 4 pass breakups along with the Williams interception.
Badgers Homecoming week
This week is Homecoming at Arkadelphia High School and will culminate with the Homecoming football game at 7:00 at Arkadelphia High School. The game will be the first varsity game on the new turf of AllCare Field at Badger Stadium. The Badger junior high teams have played twice and the fifth and sixth grade Badgers have played one game on the new surface.
Friday’s Homecoming pep rally presenting the court will be at 1:30 p.m. in the stadium. The queen coronation ceremony during pregame Friday night will begin on the field at the conclusion of the teams’ pregame warmups around 6:25.