OZARK -- In this era of high-scoring spread offenses, the old-school formula of ball-control and defense still works.
Ozark kept the ball for more than 30 minutes while its defense posted a shutout to open the Class 4A playoffs with a 21-0 win over Malvern at Hillbilly Stadium on Friday night.
Class 4A First Round
OZARK 21, MALVERN 0
Malvern ^0 ^0 ^0 ^0 — 0
Ozark ^7 ^0 ^7 ^7 — 21
OZARK – Burns 13 pass from Faulkenberry (Timmerman kick), 3:49.
OZARK – Walker 2 run (Timmerman kick), 4:24.
OZARK – Martin 9 run (Timmerman kick), :33.
The victory means a second-round showdown of 10-1 teams as Ozark will host traditional 4A power Warren. The Lumberjacks eliminated Elkins 34-19 on Friday.
"We've made that trip (to Warren) before, so now they get to return the favor," Hillbilly coach Jeremie Burns said.
The Ozark defense limited Malvern (4-7) to just seven first downs and 170 total yards on just 39 offensive plays while also forcing one turnover. Malvern ran just 14 plays in the first half, finishing with just 57 total yards and two first downs.
"Defense was lights out in the first half," Burns said. "They made a few plays in the third quarter, but we got stops when we needed to."
The Hillbillies led 7-0 thanks to a 13-yard pass from Harper Faulkenberry to Bryan Burns on fourth-and-goal with 3:49 left in the first quarter. Ozark marched 63 yards in 15 plays to start the game.
"The first quarter, they had the ball for 9 minutes in the first period, and we only had three possessions in the first half," Leopards coach JD Plumlee said. "They are a good football team. They are deserving of the top seed. We knew we had a challenge tonight, and I am proud of our kids for battling them all game long."
Despite the first-half struggles, Malvern did have its moments.
The Leopards opened the second half moving to the Hillbilly 37. Freshman quarterback Cedric Simmons kept on an off-tackle play on fourth-and-2, but a measurement found him inches short of a first down.
Ozark took full advantage, marching 64-yards in nine plays, thanks to two personal foul penalties by Malvern, capped off by Duke Walker's 2-yard run. The Hillbillies now led 14-0 with 4:24 left in the final period.
Malvern had its best of the drive of the night in the fourth quarter, getting to the Ozark 6. But a reverse on fourth-and-goal at the Hillbilly 13 only netted 2 yards and the Leopards lost the ball on downs.
"We had a couple of bad breaks," Plumlee said. "We came up short on a fourth-and-2 near midfield, and we had another scoring opportunity inside the 10, and we didn't score. Hats off to Ozark because a good football team will find a way to stop you."
Backup quarterback Ryker Martin added the Hillbillies final score of the game with a 9-yard run on fourth-and-goal with 33 seconds left.
• Ozark held Malvern to 7 first downs and 170 total yards.
• In the first quarter, the Hillbillies ran 16 plays in the first quarter while limiting the Leopards to just 3. Ozark opened the game with a 15-play, 63-yard touchdown drive.
• Ozark possessed the ball for 30:30 of the 48-minute game, including over 10 minutes of the fourth quarter.
• Next week: Ozark (10-1) will host Warren (10-1), the second seed from the 4A-8, in a second-round game. Warren defeated Elkins 34-19.
Preps Sports on 11/16/2019
Print Headline: Ozark blanks Malvern