SPRINGDALE -- Shiloh Christian didn't have to show a lot of its offensive secrets in Friday night's 39-14 win over Gravette.
The Saints took advantage of a short fields to score three first half touchdowns, and Shiloh Christian's defense did the rest for its sixth win in a row to set up a winner-take-all showdown next week at unbeaten Pea Ridge.
How They Scored
Shiloh Christian 39, Gravette 14
Shiloh — Goode 36 pass from Reece (Freeman kick), 8:32.
Shiloh — Freeman 5 run (kick fails), 5:43.
Shiloh — Solomon 32 pass from Reece (pass fails), 11:03.
Grav — Moorman 4 run (Bunch run), 5:52.
Shiloh — Olsen 4 run (Freeman kick), :08.
Shiloh — Freeman 6 run (Freeman kick), 7:43.
Shiloh — Solomon 59 run (kick fails), 5:32.
Grav — Duarte 1 run (pass fails), 1:48.
Shiloh Christian (7-2, 6-0 4A-1 Conference) drove 53, 57 and 32 yards for touchdowns to build a 19-0 lead with 11 minutes, 3 seconds left in the first half. The field position battle was a huge factor, said Saints first-year coach Jeff Conaway.
"Any time you don't have to go far, it makes our job easier," Conaway said. "That kind of dictated the tempo and enabled us to get ahead early."
Gravette (5-4, 3-3) could not overcome the big early deficit and struggled to move the ball until midway through the second quarter when its running game started finding holes.
"Obviously they have a great offense and we couldn't get anything going until the last drive of the first half and I really don't know why," Gravette coach Bill Harrelson said. "Then all of a sudden we took control of the line of scrimmage like we thought we could all night."
Shiloh Christian played two distinctly different games offensively. In the first half, the Saints used a short passing game that targeted Adler Goode (7 catches, 115 yards) and Matthew Solomon (9 catches, 82 yards) for the big early lead. Goode opened the scoring with a 36-yard scoring pass from Connor Reece, and Solomon later added a 32-yarder. Reece narrowly missed another scoring strike to Goode by slightly overthrowing him in the end zone midway through the second quarter.
In the second half Shiloh Christian turned to a solid ground game as sophomore John-Marcus Carruthers and senior Kyle Freeman combined for 139 yards on the ground.
Gravette finally got its offense moving as senior running back Cedric Duarte, one of the state's top rushers, ran behind a large offensive line that pushed the Saints back. Duarte, who missed most of last week's game against Huntsville, ran strong Friday night and led the Lions on a 12-play, 63-yard drive, capped by Bryce Moorman's 4-yard touchdown run that closed the gap to 19-8.
But the Saints answered back with a methodical scoring drive of 71 yards, taking 19 plays. Three times they converted key fourth-down plays to keep the drive alive. They went to an wildcat formation on the final three plays of the drive, using 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior Ben Olsen at quarterback. Olsen ran the final three plays, including a 4-yard fourth down touchdown to give Shiloh Christian a 26-8 halftime lead.
"We like it. It's something we put in this summer and we've kind of prepared it each week," Conaway said of the wildcat package. "Olsen did a good job of executing it. He's a running back. He's got that running back body. He did a good job when his number was called."
• Carruthers, who has stepped up for the injured Chandler Smith, had another solid outing with 10 carries for 81 yards. Of his 10 carries, only two resulted on gains of fewer than 5 yards.
• Duarte finished with 26 carries for 112 yards, pushing him to 1,261 yards on the year.
Up Next: The winner of next week's game at Pea Ridge will get a first-round bye in the Class 4A playoffs and home field throughout the playoffs. Gravette hosts Gentry in their annual Benton County rivalry.
Sports on 11/01/2014
Print Headline: Saints Top Gravette, Eye Big Game Next Week