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Stephen Neal's Pea Ridge football Blackhawks continued their climb upwards by not only upsetting the favored 5A opponent Farmington Cardinals, but by thoroughly dominating them on both sides of the ball en route to a 42-0 smack down Friday.

The game snapped a three-game losing streak dating back to last season and quickly re-established the 'Hawks as a top threat to defend their 2017 conference championship.

"Our athletes have improved with each week of the season," Neal remarked. "I told them our three goals for the game were to avoid turnovers, don't let the Cardinals begin any drive farther than their own 40-yard line, and not to surrender any big plays on defense."

The home standing 'Hawks were fairly successful, giving up no turnovers after suffering 10 in their 0-2 start. What few big yardage plays the Cardinals pulled off did not lead to anything, and the 'Hawks' special teams kept Farmington from cashing in any kick returns with their speedy backs.

Junior quarter back Tate Busey had a hand in all six Blackhawk touchdowns, throwing for five touchdowns on 10 of 15 passing for 271 yards. He also rushed for a touchdown. All told, Busey's quarterback rating was a sensational 149.3, tops in the 4A-1.

Many other 'Hawks played large roles including Samuel Beard's 107 yards on 21 carries. Hunter Rains grabbed seven passes for 148 yards and three touchdowns while eight 'Hawk defenders racked up four or more tackles. Luis Reyes was devastating on kickoffs, booting five kicks into the end zone to hamper the Cardinals' return teams.

The 'Hawks got the ball to start the game, driving 30 yards on the strength of five rushes by senior back Carson Rhine, placing the home boys into Farmington territory. Pea Ridge ended up losing the ball on downs, but the defense was fierce, limiting the Cards to just 7 yards on four plays to get the ball back. The 'Hawks slowed a bit, gaining just 5 yards on three plays to force a 'Hawk punt to the Farmington 28.

The visitors got off a 21-yard pass from Eric Hill to Drew Sturgeon to mid-field. The Cards had runs by Reid Turner totaling 5 yards but that's all they could do against a stout 'Hawk defense, forcing a punt and the 'Hawks' first break. A tremendous rush hurried the punter which resulted in a 2-yard punt to give the 'Hawks a first down at their own 48.

After a short gain by Busey, Rains hauled in a pass to cover 35 yards to the Farmington 16. Beard then bashed the line for 6, 2 and 3 yards for a first down on the Cards' 5-yard line. On second down from the 3, Busey faked a pass, rolled left then sprinted into the end zone for an apparent touchdown. Flags were flying, however, negating the score and pushing the 'Hawks back to the 14.

A subsequent pass interference call on the Cardinals put the 'Hawks on the 7-yard line, and on the next play, Busey hit Rains just short of the goal, but the junior receiver spun loose from would be tacklers to head into the end zone for the game's first score. Deadly accurate Reyes put the ball through the uprights for the PAT to give the 'Hawks a 7-0 lead with 1:55 left in the first quarter.

Reyes kicked off to the Cardinals, putting a spin on the ball which caused the guests to lose control with the 'Hawks jumping on the loose pigskin on the Farmington 35. Penalties and a sack stopped the 'Hawks cold, leading to a punt to that pinned the Cards back to their 15.

A lost yardage rush and subsequent incompletion led to another Farmington punt. A sensational 20-yard run by Rhine deep into Farmington territory was wiped out by a penalty which led to another 'Hawk punt. Three plays later, it appeared the visitors earned a first down on a 6-yard pass play, but Justin Koon spoiled their good fortune by ripping the ball from the receiver's hand, to be covered by Mike Mahoney on the Pea Ridge 47. Two plays later, the 'Hawks pulled off their second biggest gainer of the evening, with Busey avoiding a pass rush then dumping a short pass to Rhine over the middle, who then took it to the end zone to boost the score to 13-0 with 8:03 left in the half. Reyes kicked the PAT for the 14th point.

After a booming kickoff sent the Cards to the 20-yard line, three plays lost 2 yards which led to another punt. The 'Hawks' pressure rushed the kicker which resulted in a 4-yard punt to the Cardinal 22. Beard nearly went to the house, dashing to the Farmington 6. Beard fought for 5 yards on first down to the 1-yard line and the 'Hawks scored on the next play with the offensive line moving the defenders back into the end zone with Busey right behind to take it in for the score. Reyes' third kick made it 21-0 with 6:25 left in the half.

Neither team threatened to score for the remainder of the half with Toby Dunning's 5-yard sack of the quarterback in the Cards' last possession in the final minute ensuring the 21-0 lead would remain at intermission.

The Cardinals came out of the half fired up, hoping to get back into the game they were favored to win. Turner broke off a 25-yard run to start the action with Seth Swain adding a 19-yarder on the next play to push into 'Hawk territory at the 35. The next three plays netted but a yard, and on fourth down, Blackhawk senior Gannon Conrad led a host of 'Hawk defenders to catch the quarterback 8 yards deep, knocking the ball loose to the 'Hawk 46.

The 'Hawks couldn't move the ball, and a short punt gave the ball back to Farmington on the Cards' 37. Turner picked up 7 and 4 yards for a Cardinal first down, and a 7-yard pass from Swain to Hill got the guests into 'Hawk territory at the 44. However, a fierce defensive surge stripped the ball from the Cards running back with Conrad coming up with the recovery on the 44.

After a penalty set the 'Hawks back five yards, Busey hit a streaking Brayden Ralph down the middle with the elusive end catching the ball in stride, sprinting into the end zone with 7:12 left in the third period. Reyes' kick made it 28-0.

Reyes then boomed another into the end zone to keep the Cardinals deep in their side of the field. The 'Hawks were fired up, limiting Farmington to just 3 total yards before forcing another punt. Starting from the Pea Ridge 43, it took just two passes from Busey to Rains to score the 'Hawks' fifth touchdown. The first pass netted 13 yards to the Cards 44, with the next pass going down the west sideline where Rains caught it in traffic then outmaneuvered several Farmington defenders to score his second touchdown. Reyes was good in the point after, inflating the score to 35-0 with 5:20, activating the mercy rule, essentially ruling the game over.

Reyes then booted his longest kickoff into the end zone with the defense replicating their success of the previous possession, limiting Farmington to just 3 yards on three plays. Starting from the Cardinal 31, a holding call wiped out a positive yardage play by Beard, and subsequent runs by Beard got the yards back but still left the 'Hawks with a third and 10 situation on the 31. Busey located Rains sprinting down the east sidelines, lofted a pass right on the money but a Cardinal defender reached up to tip the pass. To the Cards' dismay, the tipped pass came right back down to Rains who gathered it in to race into the end zone for the 'Hawks' final score with 39 seconds left in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter went by quickly with the running clock and the Cardinals made their final push to get onto the scoreboard, driving 69 yards to the Blackhawk 17. Junior David Snarr snuffed out the guests' last hope with an interception on the 16-yard line. The 'Hawks then ran out the clock to put the final touches on the victory.

Pea Ridge out gained Farmington 421 to 181, and had the advantage in time of possession, The win marked the fifth in a row over the 'Hawks Washington County rival with the once dominant foe averaging less than 5 points a game in the current streak.

"We have made constant improvement since we began practice," Neal said, "and we have some room to improve even further. It was just a fantastic game in a lot of ways. I believe we are ready to begin conference play."

The eight 'Hawks who racked up at least four tackles included Cole Brown, Dunning, Mazon Harris and Mahoney with four each, Reyes with five stops, Tristan Brewer with six tackles, Gavin Warden with seven, while Jake Adams led the way with eight total tackles. A total of 14 Blackhawks recorded a stop.

Reyes' special team performance saw him kick off seven times for an outstanding 56 yards per kick average, a mark equaled by few kickers in the state.

The 'Hawks now go back to an 0-0 record as they begin league play at Gentry this Friday. A week later will see the 'Hawks host Lincoln in the annual Homecoming game then it is two games on the road. First at Gravette then at Prairie Grove.

Last season was the first time the 'Hawks had ever beaten Gravette in Pea Ridge in history. Strangely enough, the Lions have not beaten the 'Hawks on their own turf in eight years.

The first really big game of the conference season will be the game at Prairie Grove. The Tigers have won the league outright or earned a share in three of the past four years with the 'Hawks claiming two titles, sharing one with Prairie Grove.

The Prairie Grove game will be the mid-point of the conference season and the outcome of that game might well indicate how the 2018 season may play out.

This Friday is the next contest, at Gentry with the kickoff slated for 7 p.m.

Sports on 09/19/2018

Print Headline: Blackhawks dominate 5A Farmington, 42-0

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