PEA RIDGE -- Arkadelphia's difference-making drive Friday was perhaps one it didn't score on.
After receiving the kickoff to open the second half, the Badgers (13-1) milked 6 minutes off the clock and punted, pinning Pea Ridge at its 12. The series ultimately forced Pea Ridge's hand on its ensuing possession, giving way to its 51-26 semifinal loss at Blackhawk Stadium.
Class 4A Semifinals
Arkadelphia 51, Pea Ridge 26
Pea — Winn 12 run (Reyes kick), 4:49
Pea — Reyes FG 32, 11:51
Ark — Hatley 66 run (Goodman kick), 11:32
Ark — Hatley 12 run (Goodman kick), 9:17
Ark — Scott 50 punt return (Goodman kick), 8:05
Ark — Hatley 4 run (Goodman kick), 3:50
Pea — Holtgrewe 8 pass from Sainsbury (pass good), 1:06
Ark — Josh Burnham 1 run (kick fails), 3:29
Ark — Hatley 21 run (Goodman kick), 11:13
Pea — Holtgrewe 11 pass from Sainsbury (Winn run), 5:24
Ark — Reyes FG 27, 3:39
Ark — Hatley 2 run (Goodman kick), 1:20
Facing fourth down from their 33, Jakota Sainsbury's fake-punt pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage, resulting in a turnover on downs. Less than a minute later, Arkadelphia's Josh Burnham scored from a yard out, pushing a 28-18 Badgers lead to 34-18 and changing the trajectory of the game.
"We're down by two scores and we need to score, and my fear was that if we punt they're going to take another five or six minutes off the clock and we would just run out of time," Pea Ridge coach Stephen Neal said. "We thought we had it, but their linebacker did a great job and made a heck of a play."
Badgers running back Zion Hatley then tacked on a touchdown run -- his fourth of the night -- in the opening minute of the fourth quarter to essentially seal the win. The junior rushed for 169 yards and five touchdowns on 20 carries and led the charge in Arkadelphia's comeback effort.
Pea Ridge was first on the board in the opening quarter thanks to running back Drew Winn's 32nd rushing touchdown of the season -- a 12-yarder. Neal's club then extended its lead to 10-0 on Luis Reyes' 32-yard field goal early in the second. At the moment, Arkadelphia's defense, which had allowed more than eight points in just three games coming in, was on its heels.
Then, Hatley got loose, leading the Badgers from a 10-point hole to a 28-18 halftime lead behind three second-quarter touchdown runs. His first was a 66-yarder to get Arkadelphia on the board, and sandwiched between his final two touchdowns of the half, Dillion Scott returned a Pea Ridge punt 50 yards for a score.
"We're good with adversity," said Hatley, whose fifth touchdown set the final score. "We're good with it."
For Pea Ridge, its push for a second consecutive finals appearance fell short, but running back Drew Winn and receiver Hayden Holtgrewe were constants Friday. Winn, who eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark on the ground two weeks ago, caught two passes and rushed for 114 yards and the Blackhawks' first score.
Holtgrewe was steady on the perimeter, hauling in a career-high 10 passes for 89 yards and a pair of touchdowns, extending his streak of playoff games with a score to five dating back to 2016. Holtgrewe was the lone Blackhawk with a reception until Sainsbury hit Jordan Witcher for an eight-yard gain with five minutes to go in the third quarter.
Pea Ridge's 26 points tied for the most allowed by the Badgers in a game this season, but the Blackhawks defense had no answer for Hatley or quarterback Cannon Turner, who also rushed for better than 100 yards.
"The season only ends for one team the way you want it to end," Neal said. "Unfortunately we weren't that team this year. ... They deserved to win tonight. There's no doubt. They deserved to win tonight and they deserve to go play for a state championship."
With the win, Arkadelphia will face Warren next week in search of its first state championship since 1987.
"It's really exciting," Arkadelphia coach J.R. Eldridge said. "Players, coaches, everybody just got after it, played as hard as they could and just executed well."
Postgame, Neal's message to his team was simple, but heartfelt.
"Our No. 1 job is to love them, and their No. 1 job is to love each other," he said. "So I told them, we loved you, and I know you guys love each other, and I'll see you on Monday."
Sports on 12/02/2017
Print Headline: Blackhawks fall short in semifinals