CHARLESTON — The Ozark offense started fast and never let up against Charleston on Friday.
The Hillbillies amassed 589 total yards in just 56 plays in winning its second straight over its Franklin County rival Tigers 54-21 at Alumni Field.
Ozark (2-1) gained 534 of that on the ground, including three 100-yard rushers, in dominating Charleston (1-2). The Hillbillies now lead the overall series 28-22-5.
“We’re starting to play a little bit better each week,” said Hillbilly coach Jeremie Burns. “We did start fast tonight. We felt we could run the ball tonight.”
After touchdowns on their first two possessions, Ozark then used its defense to force two turnovers that were converted into touchdown and it was 28-0 midway in the second quarter.
“They were just better than is tonight,” said Tiger coach Ricky May. “We didn’t help ourselves as we made a lot of mistakes early on. (Ozark) is a pretty good football team.”
“We had to start fast, and we didn’t. They did, and hat’s off to them.”
Ozark quarterback Harper Faulkenberry finished with 179 yards rushing and four touchdowns to lead the Hillbilly offensive attack. Eli Masingale added 107 yards and a score and reserve running back Christopher Neissl added 107 yards and two touchdowns on just three carries.
Faulkenberry was also 4-of-7 passing for 55 yards and a touchdown.
“Faulkenberry is a stud and he showed it tonight,” May said.
Ozark’s offense dominated the first half, gaining 290 yards in the first half, including 235 yards on the ground.
The defense forced two turnovers, both of which were converted to touchdowns.
Faulkenberry paced the offense with three rushing touchdown (100 yards on 11 carries) and threw a touchdown pass to Sebastian Ross while adding two 2-point conversion runs.
Ozark took the opening kickoff and scored four plays and 64 yards later on Faulkenberry’s 26-yard keeper for a 6-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
Charleston faced a fourthand-3 at the Ozark 43, but Tiger quarterback Brandon Scott was sacked by Eli Massengale to end the threat.
The Hillbillies then marched 50 yards. Faulkenberry had a 19-yard third-down completion to Keystan Durning to the Tiger 1. Faulkenberry scored on the next play for a 12-0 Ozark advantage with 5:11 left in the first quarter.
The Ozark defense then forced two turnovers that led to a pair of second-quarter touchdowns. Faulkenberry threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Sebastain Ross after the first turnover, then added an 18-yard keeper for the other score, adding 2-point conversion runs on both to give Ozark a 28-0 lead with 7:42 left in the first half.
“(The defense) set us up in the second quarter,” Burns said.
Charleston got as close as 28-14 early in the third quarter on a 43-yard keeper by quarterback Brandon Scott, but a Masingale 25-yard touchdown run followed by an 8-yard keeper by Faulkenberry and the Hillbilly lead was back to 40-14 with 9:34 left.
• Though Ozark leads the overall series, since the series started back up in 2004, Charleston leads series revival 12-4-1. This is the first time since the series started back up that the Hillbillies have won two in a row.
• Faulkenberry accounted for five touchdowns as he rushed for four scores and passed for another. He finished with 172 yards on 19 carries and was 4-of-7 passing for 55 yards.
• The Hillbillies blew the game open in the second quarter converting two fumbles into touchdowns.
• Next week: Ozark travels to Dardanelle to open 4A-4 play while Charleston opens 3A-1 play at Greenland.