By CHRIS BABB | The Arkadelphian
ARKADELPHIA — Getting off to a quick start in a game is the goal for every team, and Friday night the Arkadelphia Badgers achieved that goal.
After starting the game with good field position on the opening kickoff, sophomore running back Kyle Reed took a handoff from quarterback Donovan Whitten 53 yards to the end zone for a touchdown and the Badgers never looked back in a 49-21 win over Clinton in the first round of the 4A State Playoffs on AllCare Field at Badger Stadium.
With the win, the Badgers improved to 9-0 on the season and advanced to the second round where they will face the Ozark Hillbillies Friday night at 7:00 pm at Badger Stadium. Clinton’s season came to an end with the loss, with the Yellowjackets finishing the 2022 season with a 7-4 record.
The Arkadelphia defense continued its solid play, holding the Yellowjackets to one first-half touchdown. The Badgers forced a punt on Clinton’s first possession and the Badger offense again struck quickly. The Yellowjackets managed to gain less than 100 yards of offense against the Badger starters in the first half.
Whitten found senior receiver Tripp Campbell for a big gain on first down and then hit junior receiver Evan Bailey on a post route in the middle of the field for the first of Bailey’s two touchdowns. The Badgers led 21-0 after the first quarter and added three more touchdowns in the second quarter to take a commanding 42-7 lead into the halftime break, invoking the AAA Sportsmanship Rule and a running clock in the second half.
Whitten ended the first half connecting on 10 of his 12 passing attempts for 155 yards and four touchdowns. Those completions came to six different players. Bailey caught three passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns. Reed and senior receiver LaTonnieo Hughes each caught two passes for the Badgers. Sophomore receiver Jaquavus Purifoy caught one pass, a five-yard touchdown.
Junior running back DeAngelo Buckley led the ground game for the Badgers which totaled 176 yards on the night. Buckley rushed nine times for 72 yards and one touchdown. Reed added 67 yards and two touchdowns.
Three players paced the Badger defense in the tackles category with senior linebacker Marveon Berry, junior linebacker Chase Vantilborg and junior defensive lineman Kaden Young each being credited with eight tackles.
Junior defensive back Nick Williams added seven tackles and junior linebacker Tucker guy had seven tackles and an interception. Senior defensive lineman Max Wilson, junior linebacker Cade McBride and junior defensive lineman Kaden Brown also had six tackles.
4A-7 in 1ST ROUND OF 4A STATE PLAYOFFS
Arkadelphia 49, Clinton 21
Malvern 34, Pottsville 14
Nashville 28, Bauxite 7
Ashdown 21, Lonoke 14
Ozark 45, Mena 7
4A-7 2nd ROUND MATCHUPS – Fri., Nov. 18
4A-7 1st Arkadelphia vs. 4A-1 2nd Ozark
4A-7 2nd Malvern at 4A-4 3rd Lamar
4A-7 3rd Nashville at Pocahontas 4A-3 1st4A-7 4th Ashdown at 4A-1 1st Elkins