October 08, 2008 Edition

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Bobcats maul Salem

Bobcat William Wilcoxson runs the ball during Walnut Ridge's 44-0 victory over Salem on Friday night. In addition to playing as a running back, Wilcoxson is a defensive leader at the middle linebacker position for the Bobcats, with 61 tackles on the season. As of last week, he led the Jonesboro Sun circulation area with 53 tackles. His single-game high was 21 against McCroy.
Submitted Photo ~ Ashley George

Nathan Hibbard
Staff Writer

After experiencing a pair of tough losses the past two weeks, the Walnut Ridge Bobcats got back in the win column with a 44-0 mauling of 2A-3 conference foe Salem on Friday at Salem.

Walnut Ridge found the end zone early, scoring on the opening drive of the game. Quarterback Jared Blackwell capped the drive with a five-yard run and Tim Cummins added the extra point for a 7-0 Bobcat lead with 4:43 to play in the first quarter.

The Bobcats added to their lead when Blackwell scored on a 10-yard run with 1:38 remaining in the second period. Cummins PAT made the score 14-0.

Walnut Ridge's Caleb Dodd recovered a Salem fumble on the ensuing kickoff. The Bobcats capitalized on the Greyhounds' mistake, when Blackwell hit Logan Gaither with a 25-yard touchdown pass with just 29 seconds left in the quarter. Cummins' PAT gave the Bobcats a 21-0 halftime lead.

The Walnut Ridge defense forced Salem to punt on the opening possession of the second half. The snap went over the punter's head and through the end zone for a safety, giving the Bobcats a 23-0 lead.

The Bobcats found the end zone again on the ensuing possession. Blackwell scored his third rushing touchdown of the evening, this time from nine yards out. Cummins' extra point gave the Bobcats a commanding 30-0 lead with 9:18 to play in the third quarter.

The Bobcats' Tristan Fernandez recovered another Salem fumble to set up the Cats' next score. Preston Matthews capped the drive with a six-yard run, and Cummins' PAT made the score 37-0.

Salem was forced to punt on their next possession. Bennett Dudley returned the punt 55 yards for the Bobcats' final touchown. Cummins added his sixth PAT for the final point.

Walnut Ridge head coach Larry Treadway was pleased with his team's intensity in the second half.

"I thought the key to the ballgame was the third quarter. We had a little momentum at half, but we've come out flat in the third quarter the past couple of ballgames. We challenged our kids in the locker room at halftime to put the game away and they responded," said Treadway.

Blackwell was 7-of-16 passing, for 101 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Blackwell also led the team in rushing, with 13 carries for 59 yards and three touchdowns. Matthews had seven carries for 47 yards and a touchdown.

Gaither caught four passes for 84 yards and a touchdown.

Fernandez led the defense with nine tackles, and William Wilcoxson added eight.

Walnut Ridge's record is now 3-2 overall and 2-2 in conference play.

The Bobcats host conference leader Marked Tree for homecoming this week. The Indians are undefeated in the conference at 4-0 and 4-1 overall. Homecoming activities start at 7 p.m., with the kickoff at 7:30.

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