CENTERTON -- Slade Pearson played a big part in Bentonville West's first playoff appearance two years ago, and he had a crucial role in the Wolverines' first playoff victory Friday night.
The senior defensive back intercepted Nick McCuin's pass with 1:55 remaining, and sophomore Tanner Anderson scored on the next play to secure Bentonville West's 31-17 victory over Conway in a Class 7A quarterfinal game at Wolverine Stadium.
BENTONVILLE WEST 31, CONWAY 17
Conway 0 10 7 0 — 17
West 7 10 7 7 — 31
West — Smallwood 48 pass from Jarrett (McDoulett kick), 4:50.
Conway — Bohanon 23 pass from Johnson (Hogue kick), 11:09.
West — Jackson 8 pass from Jarrett (McDoulett kick), 9:53.
West — FG McDoulett 41, 7:29.
Conway — FG Hogue 20, 1:25.
West — Jackson 14 run (McDoulett kick), 9:09.
Conway — Johnson 52 run (Hogue kick), 6:52.
West — Anderson 29 run (McDoulett kick), 1:47.
"We knew it would come, just like we talk about all the wins," Bentonville West Coach Bryan Pratt said of the school's first playoff victory. "We get a big playoff win, and that's a big deal for our program to be able to do this and play on Thanksgiving break.Gallery: Conway at Bentonville West
"Slade is one of those players that started with me three years ago when we started this journey. It's really fun to see a kid like that fight through some adversity when he hurt his knee, then come back with that play."
Conway (9-3) had the ball on its 14 with 2:12 remaining. McCuin -- in at quarterback after Jovoni Johnson was injured in the third quarter -- threw a pass that was picked off by Pearson, who helped the Wolverines clinch their first playoff game two years ago when he deflected a pass away with no time remaining.
Anderson then pulled away from Conway defenders on the next play and ran into the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown run, giving Bentonville West (7-4) its final score with 1:47 remaining.
"I can't believe it. It's a dream come true, honestly," Pearson said. "I just sunk back and saw what I could see. It just fell right in my hands.
"I slid my feet. I was hoping and praying I would be able to stay inbounds. I'm just ready to get to the next one."
Jadon Jackson's 14-yard run on a jet sweep gave Bentonville West a 24-10 lead with 9:09 left in the third quarter, but Conway responded on the ensuing drive with Johnson's 52-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 play. The Wampus Cats then forced an Anderson fumble and took over at its 43 with a chance to tie.
Two plays later, Johnson fumbled the ball as he was hit. He was taken off the field with 4:10 left in the third quarter, and his status is unknown.
"Somebody told me he had a head-to-head collision," Conway Coach Keith Fimple said. "He seemed to be all right when they got him on the cart and did all the medical stuff.
"He's been a leader for us. We have 36 seniors that are really, really close. All year long, they've done a great job on this journey we've been on. He's one of those vocal guys you look for and a great athlete."
With Johnson gone, Conway turned to its running backs to take up the slack, and four consecutive runs by Luke Bailey moved the ball to the Bentonville West 29 before a fumbled snap pushed the Wampus Cats back. Conway faced fourth and 16 at the Wolverines 35 and had a pass intercepted, but a pass-interference call gave the Wampus Cats one more opportunity to keep the drive alive.
Conway put the ball in the hands of Cary McClain, who finished with 17 carries for 89 yards. Bentonville West, however, dropped him for a yard loss and forced a turnover on downs with 5:57 remaining.
Sports on 11/17/2018
Print Headline: Wolverines record first playoff victory