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— While the 'Hawks may have come up short on the score board, they came up tall in character in their 42-34 loss to Elkins in the 2009 football season opener on the road.

"While we may have lost," head coach Tony Travis said, "I am extremely proud of my players. We got down by 14 twice and could have easily have given up, but we didn't. We fought toe to toe with a good football team and we had our chances. Our players believe in each other and I think that attitude will go a long way for us this season."

"A lot of teams have us figured for an easy win this year," Travis continued, "but we're going to show them that had better come to play if they want to beat us. Tonight I saw the Pea Ridge 'pride' that I have heard so much about and we are going to get better."

Senior Tyler Ramsey rushed for nearly 100 yards with two other runs totally 52 yards called back due to penalties, a problem that stymied the 'Hawks several times throughout the game. Ramsey scored one touchdown with signal caller Ethan Rhine rushing for three scores along more with kicking two extra points. Bo Rylee recorded the other score on a pass reception.

The game started well enough for the 'Hawks as Kory Gann gathered in the opening kickoff and returned the ball to near midfield. It appeared that Pea Ridge might score on its first possession with Rhine completing a pass deep in the Elks red zone, but a penalty wiped out the gain, eventually forcing a punt to give the ball over to Elkins on their own 16.

The Elks stayed on the ground, moving up to the Elks' 49 on five plays. On first down, the 'Hawks had the Elkins ball carrier corralled but the speedy back slipped through a host of 'Hawks to gain 45 yards to the Hawk six. Two rushes later and the Elks were up 7-0 following the successful PAT with 7:06 showing in the first quarter.

A 26-yard run back by Ramsey on the kickoff gave the 'Hawks a first down on their own 29. A penalty and pass incompletion hampered the 'Hawks, forcing them to punt again as Rhine got off a 43-yard boomer to the Elks' 27. The Elks again proved elusive to tackle as they rushed for gains of 8, 22, 6 and 37 to strike paydirt with 3:34 left in the quarter. The kick after was again good as Elkins assumed a 14-0 lead.

The misfortunes seemed to motivate the 'Hawks as they put together a 12-play 73-yard drive to slice the Elks' lead in half. Highlights of the drive were a 29-yard Ramsey run down the visitor sidelines along with a 10 yarder by Ramsey three plays later for a first down on the Elks' 20. Ramsey then rushed 11 yards to the Elks' 9 with Rhine getting some great blocks on the next play as he dashed into the end zone with 11:29 left in the half. Rhine also kicked the PAT to cut Elkins' advantage to 14-7.

Elkins again stayed on the ground on their next possession, moving to the 'Hawks' 35 on five plays. The 'Hawks came up big on defense as they jarred the ball loose from the Elks' ball carrier with Gann covering the ball on the Pea Ridge 30. On second down, Gann showed the Elks his heels as he exploded for 43 yards to the Elks' 29. After a five-yard gainer by Ramsey, Rhine executed a great fake as he kept the ball and sliced through the defenders for 24 yards and his second touchdown. Elkins blocked the point after to maintain a slender 14-13 lead with 7:28 left in the half.

Elkins showed they were up to the challenge when, on first down, the Elks tailback broke numerous tackles as he fought for 13 yards. The 'Hawk defenders nearly derailed the Elks' drive as they caught the Elkins quarterback eight yards behind the line of scrimmage, but they could not bring him down. The signal caller ducked and slithered his way for 15 yards to the 'Hawks' 23. Two plays later and the Elks were back in the end zone, upping their lead to 21-13 with 5:18 left in the period.

With 1:16 left in the half, the 'Hawks got their first break when the Elks center snapped the ball over the punter's head on fourth down with Pea Ridge tackling the punter on Elkins' 14 yard line. Rhine's first pass was incomplete but the second one found its mark with Rylee rambling into the end zone with 1:03 left in the half. Ramsey's twopoint conversion tied the score at 21-all and the 'Hawks had new life.

Another bad break came the 'Hawks way, however, as they held the Elks with their third down pass falling incomplete at midfield. The Elks got new life on the incomplete pass when the Elk who pretended to have taken a handoff was tackled at midfield. The officials ruled it a hold, giving the ball to Elkins on the Pea Ridge 40. Two passes later and the Elks squeaked in a last score with just 18 seconds left in the half, giving the hosts a 28-21 lead at intermission.

The 'Hawks came out of half-time with fire in their eyes, and actually outgained the Elks in the period but an early fumble helped Elkins stay on top. Gann made a sensational leaping catch of an Elkins pass to give Pea Ridge the ball on their own 48. Ramsey broke through for a 25-yard gainer on first down but a holding penalty wiped out the gain, pushing them back to their own 38. Disaster struck when the 'Hawk ball carrier fumbled with an Elk defensive player picking the ball up, returning the it to the 'Hawk one-yard line. A quarterback sneak on first down gave Elkins the score as their lead grew to 34-21 with 9:35 left in the third quarter.

Pea Ridge was not going to lay down as they quickly launched a 10-play scoring drive. Ramsey's 10-yard run and Torres' 17-yard jaunt sparked the attack. The drive momentarily bogged down as the 'Hawks faced a fourth and eight from the nine-yard line. Rhine's rollout to the right failed to fool the Elks but the quickfooted quarterback simply reversed direction, outsprinting the defense to the left side of the end zone for the 'Hawks' fourth TD.

After the kickoff, Elkins drove into 'Hawks' territory but the defense made a stand with Pea Ridge taking over on downs on their own 33. A 27-yard burst through the line by Ramsay was erased by still another penalty but a Rhine 19-yard pass to Colton Holtgrewe gave the 'Hawks a first down near midfield. A 16-yard pass from Rhine to Schneider along with runs by Torres and Ramsey gave the 'Hawks a first down on the Elks' four. Three punishing runs by Ramsey resulted in paydirt as Pea Ridge once again erased a big deficit, creeping to within one point, trailing 35-34 with 6:20 left in the game. The two-point run for the lead came up just short as Elkins managed to hang on to their lead.

The Elks could not move on the fired up 'Hawks as they were forced to punt after three plays. A 29-yard return gave the 'Hawks excellent field possession on the Elk 46. The Elk defense rose to the occasion as well, however, taking the ball on downs after four plays. It appeared that the 'Hawks might have had a momentary let down as the Elks then ripped off runs of 10, 37 and 15 yards to score in less than a minute. The score gave Elkins some breathing room with a 42-34 lead with 1:27 left in the game.

The 'Hawks did get a first down near midfield in the game's waning moments but a bad snap led to a fumble which the Elks covered with 29 seconds left in the game. Elkins then let the clock run out for their first victory of the year.

Sports, Pages 9 on 09/09/2009

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