September 24, 2008 Edition

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Cats suffer first
loss at Cross County



Walnut Ridge quarterback Jared Blackwell runs the ball during the Bobcats' 48-32 loss to Cross County at Cherry Valley on Friday night.
Submitted Photo ~ Ashley George
Nathan Hibbard
Staff Writer

Cross County was able to take advantage of some crucial Walnut Ridge mistakes and handed the Bobcats a 48-32 defeat, their first of the season, in senior high football on Friday at Cherry Valley.

Walnut Ridge scored on their first offensive possession of the game when Brandon Dawson carried it in from four yards out. The PAT kick was no good, leaving the Bobcats with a 6-0 lead. Bennett Dudley gave Walnut Ridge a 12-0 lead on a 22-yard run with 2:26 to play in the opening quarter. The two-point conversion attempt failed.

The Cross County defense intercepted a Jared Blackwell pass and returned it 15 yards for a score. The PAT cut the Bobcat lead to 12-7 with 8:38 remaining in the second period.

The Bobcats' Dudley returned a Cross County punt 60 yards for a touchdown with 4:11 to play in the quarter.

A blocked punt by Cross County gave the Thunderbirds possession inside the Walnut Ridge 20-yard line late in the period. The Thunderbirds capitalized on the Bobcat miscue with a touchdown and extra point to trim the Walnut Ridge lead to 18-14 with just 1:32 to play in the half. The late score gave the Thunderbirds momentum heading into the locker room at halftime.

The Thunderbirds carried their momentum into the second half, scoring 20 unanswered points in the third quarter to take a 34-18 lead over their visitors.

Walnut Ridge attempted to mount a comeback when Blackwell passed 21 yards to Dudley for a Bobcat touchdown, cutting the deficit to 34-24 with 2:12 to play in the third quarter. The PAT was no good.

Cross County scored early in the quarter to take a 41-24 lead.

With less than a minute to play, Blackwell passed to Logan Gaither for a touchdown and then hit Gaither for the two-point conversion to make the score 41-32.

Cross County scored on a 55-yard pass on the final play of the game. The extra-point set the final score.

"It's hard to overcome two lost fumbles, an interception returned for a score and a blocked punt. They capitalized on our mistakes and it cost us the game," said Walnut Ridge head coach Larry Treadway. "We'll regroup and correct those mistakes and hopefully have a better effort this week."

Blackwell finished 10-of-18 passing, for 183 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Gaither caught five passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. Dudley had three receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown.

Dudley was the leading rusher for the Bobcats, with 98 yards on five carries. Preston Matthews had 55 yards on 10 carries.

William Wilcoxson led the Walnut Ridge defense with 13 tackles. D.J. Wayne and Gaither each had 12 tackles. Gaither also had an interception.

Walnut Ridge is 2-1 overall and 1-1 in 2A-3 conference play. The Bobcats host McCrory on Friday, with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

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