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— The battle for second place in the 4A-1 Junior Conference was just that, as the visiting Huntsville Eagles just outbattled the Junior Blackhawks to win a hard fought 6-0 victory.

Coming into the game with identical 2-1 district records, the teams played each other evenly throughout the contest with the difference being a short drive by Huntsville in the closing seconds of the first half.

The scoring drive was boosted by a 17-yard passing play and was aided greatly by a pair of offsides penalties against the ’Hawks.

The ’Hawks started the game with hard-nosed defense, throwing the Eagles for losses on their first three plays. The ’Hawk line stopped the ball carrier for a one-yard loss on first down, Austin Easterling broke through to drop the Eagle ball carrier for a loss on second down, followed by Joseph Adams tackling a pass receiver for a loss on third down, forcing a punt.

The ’Hawks couldn’t move the ball on their possession, however, and after taking a punt on their side of the field, the Eagles got off a passing play that nearly scored, moving the ball 47 yards to the Pea Ridge 2. On the very next play, the ’Hawk line broke through to break up the play and the Eagle fans hearts along with it, causing a fumble that Pea Ridge recovered on the 4-yard line. On second down, Easterling foundDaniel Beard open for a pass with the ninth-grader breaking loose for a 28-yard gainer to the ’Hawk 30. Easterling subsequently connected with Adams for a 12-yard gain with runs by Dayton Winn, Easterling and Braxton Caudill pushing the ball to near midfield. The ’Hawks turned the ball over on downs, however, as a fourth down pass fell incomplete, giving Huntsville the ball on the Pea Ridge 48.

The ’Hawks remained tough on the ground, with Dakota Coan and Caudill teaming up to throw an Eagle for a loss to force Huntsville into a third and 13 on their own side of the field at their 49-yard line.

Huntsville went to the air, moving the ball 17 yards to the ’Hawk 34 on a pass play. Two five-yard runs and two fiveyard offside calls that went against Pea Ridge moved the ball to the ’Hawk 9 where it took Huntsville three plays to go the distance, scoring with a scant 40 seconds left on the clock. The point after attempt was stuffed by the ’Hawks, sending Huntsville into the break leading 6-0.

The first play of the half seemed to doom the ’Hawks with a fumble on first down giving the ball to Huntsville on the Pea Ridge 44. The good fortune for the visitors was short lived as Winn picked off a Huntsville pass on their first down, returning it to Eagle territory on the 49-yard line. Two quarterback sacks by the Eagles, though, derailed the opportunity, forcing the ’Hawks to punt as they facedfourth and 16.

The teams traded punts until Pea Ridge got a drive rolling toward the end of the third quarter. Penalties fouled up two of the first three plays of the drive, with a clipping penalty erasing most of the 16-yard gain made on an Easterling pass to Caudill on first down.

Replaying first down, Easterling hit Beard for a 13-yard pass to the ’Hawk 38. On the next play, Easterling connected with Caudill again for 16 yards, but a holding penalty away from the ball wiped out all but two of the gained yards.

An Easterling nine-yard pass to Caudill on fourth down kept the drive alive with a first down at midfield. Another pass to Caudill gained 10 yards to the Eagle 40, and the ’Hawks picked up 15 penalty yards when Huntsville hit Beard hardin the back before the ball arrived on the next play. After a rushing play netted three yards, three straight incompletions turned the ball over to Huntsville on the Eagle 22 with seven minutes left in the game.

Huntsville, who had been held to just 14 rushing yards in the first three quarters, finally got some running room as they rushed for 41 yards and passed for nine more to eat the clock in the game’s final minutes. After 10 plays, though, the ’Hawks finally forced a punt, taking the ball on their own 46. A nineyard run by Easterling and a 15-yard pass to Daniel Beard gave the home folks some hope as they crossed into Eagle territory to the 36 with the clock running out, but a first down pass was intercepted by Huntsville who then ran out the clock for the victory.

Sports, Pages 9 on 10/21/2009

Print Headline: Eagles outbattled junior ’Hawks for second

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