Beebe had a surprise in store for Little Rock Christian on Thursday night at Warrior Field, but there was no fooling the Warriors in their regular-season finale.
Little Rock Christian, the defending Class 5A state champion that was already assured of the No. 1 seed out of the 5A-Central, returned Beebe's onside kick attempt 49 yards for a touchdown on the game's first play and cruised to a 59-14 victory.
The Warriors will host a first-round playoff game next Friday against the No. 4 seed from the 5A-South.
"We want to be a championship team, so we want to play every play, every day, every game," Warriors Coach Eric Cohu said.
"The guys do realize the clock is ticking, so even if we do go all the way, time is running out. Make the most of it."
Cohu said his staff had warned the front line of the kick return team that the Badgers (2-8, 1-6 5A-Central) might try something tricky on the opening kickoff.
Junior Benjamin Kelley was ready.
He picked up Jaime Rodriguez's bouncing onside kick attempt at the Beebe 49 before the Badgers could touch it, split Beebe players and crossed the goal line six seconds later to give Little Rock Christian a lead.
"He listened to us," Cohu said of Kelley. "It looked like we weren't going to get it, and he made a very savvy football play."
Beebe Coach Chris Gunter said the Badgers came into the game with a nothing-to-lose approach.
"We had hope, and we had faith, and wanted to come out and hit 'em in the mouth," Gunter said.
"Sometimes, when a person's got nothing to lose, that's when they're most dangerous."
It didn't work out for Beebe, even though the Badgers dominated time of possession, controlling the ball for nearly 20 of the game's first 24 minutes.
It was Little Rock Christian that did all the scoring -- including five touchdowns on drives that covered 14 plays, 327 yards and consumed a total of 2:58. The touchdown drives consumed 58, 25, 33, 37 and 25 seconds.
The Warriors (10-0, 7-0) also scored on two fumble returns deep in Beebe territory, and their longest drive as far as time consumed, 1:03, ended in a 25-yard field goal by Isaiah Hankins late in the second quarter.
The Warriors started putting in their second-teamers midway through the second quarter, and Cohu said there were no starters on the field during the second half. Little Rock Christian led 59-0 at halftime.
"The offense did a great job coming out of the gate and finishing every drive," Cohu said.
Gunter said the Badgers were excited about their opportunity, and he had no regrets about the onside kick attempt.
"Unfortunately, they're really good, the coach is really good," Gunter said. "They're a really good team, and they'll be there again this year, I believe."
Gunter said the onside kick attempt was something the Badgers discussed during warmups.
"They were ready to go," he said. "They were all about it."
Little Rock Christian was keyed in as well, led by quarterback Akeem Gilmore (5-of-6 passing, 140 yards, 2 TDs) and running back Kendel Givens (5-147 rushing, 2 TDs).
Miller Karrh and Brett Smith caught Gilmore's touchdown passes, and Corey Pratt scored on a 4-yard run on Little Rock Christian's first offensive possession.
Sports on 11/08/2019