PEA RIDGE -- The game plan for Pea Ridge was to set the tone early on offense and try to limit Gentry standout quarterback Jon Faulkenberry as much as possible.
The Blackhawks executed both in Friday's 47-18 win at Blackhawk Stadium, but three plays into the game it looked like it could go the other way.
Pea Ridge 47, Gentry 18
Pea — Winn 4 run (Green kick), 6:50.
Pea — Holtgrewe 34 punt return (Kick failed), 4:34.
Pea — Witcher 73 pass from Sainsbury (Kick failed), 2:39.
Pea — Winn 32 run (Green kick), 7:21.
Pea — Holtgrewe 29 pass from Sainsbury (Green kick), 3:55.
Gentry — Wright 10 pass from Faulkenberry (Kick failed), 1:37.
Pea — Galbraith 11 pass from Sainsbury (Green kick), 1:16.
Pea — Pickthall 2 run (Green kick), 6:55.
Gentry — Wright 5 pass from Faulkenberry (Pass failed), 11:55.
Gentry — Wright 16 pass from Faulkenberry (Pass failed), 1:59.
Faulkenberry, who accounted for 10 touchdowns in last week's game against Greenland, gashed the Blackhawks for 47 yards on a scramble on the game's third play and hit a 22-yard pass two plays later as the Pioneers were inside the Pea Ridge 10-yard line.
Then the Blackhawks defense forced three straight incompletions and Gentry missed a short field goal try to come away empty. Gentry would not threaten to score again until there was under two minutes left in the first half. By then, Pea Ridge had put up 33 in the 4A-1 Conference opener for both teams.
"We knew going in that Faulkenberry was going to gain his yards," Pea Ridge coach Stephen Neal said. "He's a good enough athlete and with the scheme they run, he can hurt you. That was huge when he reeled that off on the first drive and I'm thinking, 'oh my goodness. This might be a long night.' But our defense was able to stiffen up there and they did a nice job overall."
Pea Ridge (4-0, 1-0 4A-1) drove 80 yards in 8 plays after the missed field goal with Drew Winn accounting for 69 of the yards, the last a 4-yard scoring run with 6 minutes, 50 seconds left in the first quarter and a 7-0 Blackhawks lead.
Then the floodgates opened as the Blackhawks tacked on two more quick scores, the first a 34-yard punt return for a touchdown by Hayden Holtgrewe, and later a 73-yard touchdown pass from Jakota Sainsbury to Jordan Witcher. Holtgrewe had another punt return for a touchdown called back, but Pea Ridge went up 26-0 on Winn's 32-yard scoring run, and 33-0 when Sainsbury hit 5 straight passes, the last a 29-yard scoring strike to Holtgrewe with 3:55 left in the half.
"It was a point of emphasis this week in practice to get back to getting up to the line of scrimmage, getting down and getting off and being physical," Neal said. "That was a big goal for us this week and they did a nice job of that."
Neal said the Blackhawks also set a coach to clean up their mistakes, particularly penalties, after Pea Ridge was penalized 15 times last week against Farmington, many of those dead-ball penalties.
"We did not have any of those tonight," Neal said. "It was overall a good win."
Sainsbury finished the night 9 of 11 passing for 175 yards and three touchdowns in just one half. Winn added 120 yards rushing on 11 carries also in one half as the Blackhawks starters did not play in the second half.
Faulkenberry, who had accounted for 22 touchdowns in three games coming in, had three touchdown passes for the Pioneers (2-2, 0-1), two coming in the fourth quarter after the mercy-rule was in place.
The Pioneers host Berryville next week, and Pea Ridge travels to Lincoln as the season reaches the midway point.
Sports on 09/23/2017
Print Headline: Pea Ridge rolls in 4A-1 opener