SPRINGDALE -- Shiloh Christian's defense was its best offense Friday night.
The Saints forced six Gentry turnovers, including four interceptions, and the Shiloh Christian offense did the rest in a 36-6 win at Champions Stadium in front of a large homecoming crowd.
How They Scores
Shiloh Christian 36, Gentry 6
Shiloh — Goode 29 pass from Reece (Reece pass to Solomon), 11:09.
Shiloh — Smith 3 run (Freeman kick), 6:11.
Gentry — Stone Faulkenberry 89 kickoff return (run fails), 5:54.
Shiloh — Carruthers 2 run (Freeman kick), 10:30.
Shiloh — Freeman 1 run (Freeman kick), :54.
Shiloh — Solomon 17 pass from Reece (Freeman kick), 11:35.
"Anytime you can create takeaways and force turnovers, your chances of winning increase dramatically," said Shiloh Christian coach Jeff Conaway, whose team won its fourth straight game. "That was the case tonight."
The Saints (5-2, 4-0 4A-1 Conference) dominated the game defensively. Not only did the Saints come away with six turnovers, it also shut down Gentry's run game. The Pioneers (2-5, 2-2) managed just 40 yards rushing and 139 total yards. Of Gentry's 40 yards on the ground, 22 came on one play.
The Pioneers also did a solid job defensively, especially in the first half. Zachary Ellis was a force in the middle that helped turn away the Saints time and again, and linebacker Dakota Smith cause the Saints all kinds of problems rushing off the edge.
"I was so proud of our defense," Gentry coach Brian Little said. "Just really proud of them. We forced some three and outs. When we watched them on field, I hardly saw them punt.
"But you have to be able to put some points on the board against them."
Gentry's only points came on Stone Faulkenberry's 89-yard kickoff return after Shiloh Christian went up 15-0 on Chandler Smith's short touchdown run with 6 minutes, 11 seconds left in the second quarter. That cut the gap to 15-6, which is how it stayed through halftime, but the Pioneers never got any closer.
Shiloh Christian's Doug Burke intercepted a Gentry pass one play into the second half and the Saints struck quickly as Connor Reece hit Adler Goode for 41 yards, and John-Marcus Carruthers scored two plays later for a 22-6 cushion and the Saints dominated from that point on.
A Gentry fumble later in the third quarter led to another Shiloh Christian touchdown as the Saints drove 35 yards -- all on the ground -- and Kyle Freeman scored from a yard out with :54 left in the third quarter. The Saints did not attempt another pass the rest of the game and cruised from there.
"They did some things defensively that really put us in some difficult situations, and we didn't handle them real well," Conaway said. "Their defensive coordinator did a heck of a job. Their kids were prepared and I think their kids were playing with more passion than we were early."
• Carruthers, a sophomore, gave the Saints a solid spark at running back with 90 yards on 13 carries to lead the team in rushing.
• Reece, also a sophomore, had another solid night for the Saints, going 14-of-23 for 203 yards and two touchdowns to go over 1,500 yards passing for the season.
• Ashley Bryant was named the Homecoming queen prior to the game. Austin Connolly, a starting linebacker, was named the Homecoming King.
• Many of the Gentry fans and the Pioneer cheerleaders wore lime green T-shirts and ribbons for Shiloh Christian elementary student Gunnison Riggins, who is battling cancer. They also unfurled a large lime green banner on the Gentry side of the stadium with "Team Gunnison" written on it.
Up Next: Shiloh Christian travels to Lincoln, while Gentry returns home to host Prairie Grove.
Sports on 10/18/2014
Print Headline: Shiloh Christian's Defense Stifles Gentry