PEA RIDGE -- With its offense held in check, Pea Ridge leaned on its defense Friday night. The unit delivered, especially in the second half.
The Blackhawks (3-0) shut out Farmington in the final 24 minutes for a 24-7 victory at Blackhawks Stadium.
The Pea Ridge defense allowed the Cardinals (1-2) just 99 yards of offense in the second half -- 48 on Farmington's final possession with reserves on the field. In the first half, Cardinals running back Caleb Williams ran for 141 yards. In the second half, he was held to 1 yard on 5 carries.
"I think we played well on defense, but it's a process," said Pea Ridge Coach Stephen Neal, who is 16-2 in two seasons. "We are playing a whole lot of underclassmen, but for them to be able to stiffen when Farmington got in the red zone, and we had a couple of fourth-down stops and forced a couple of turnovers. Our kids played very hard and that allowed us to overcome some mistakes."
Pea Ridge (3-0) opened the game with offensive fireworks as senior Jordan Witcher returned the opening kickoff 36 yards, then caught a 48-yard scoring pass from Jakota Sainsbury on the Blackhawks' second offensive play for a 7-0 lead with just 56 seconds elapsed.
The early fireworks fizzled quickly as mistakes and penalties kept the Blackhawks out of the end zone. In the first half, Pea Ridge was penalized 11 times for 99 yards. Farmington also drew a lot of penalties with 7 for 87 yards.
Farmington's defense also played well after allowing the opening score, and a key stop of Pea Ridge running back Drew Winn on fourth and 2 helped the Cardinals even the score.
The Cardinals drove 69 yards in 7 plays with Williams and Jared Oskey doing most of the damage on the ground. Williams had 4 carries for 23 yards, and Oskey added a 20-yard run. Williams capped the drive with a 2-yard run with 2:09 left in the first quarter. The score remained 7-7 at halftime.
Pea Ridge took the lead for good midway through the third quarter when Evan Green drilled a 24-yard field goal for a 10-7 edge.
"In the second half, we adjusted and we knew what we had to do to overcome some adversity," Pea Ridge junior safety Carson Rhine said. "We knew what we needed to do because we went through it last year, and we had to do the same tonight."
Pea Ridge took advantage of a short Farmington punt to drive 41 yards for a touchdown on Winn's 15-yard burst. Winn finished the night with 141 yards rushing on 22 carries.
The Blackhawks added a late score when Sainsbury hit Hayden Holtgrewe on a short pass that turned into a 35-yard score.
The Blackhawks host Gentry next week in the 4A-1 Conference opener. Farmington will host Clarksville in the 5A-West opener.
Sports on 09/16/2017
Print Headline: Pea Ridge defense gets stingy vs. Farmington