November 11, 2009 Edition

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Cats drop final
conference game
Walnut Ridge to face Woodlawn
in state playoffs

Walnut Ridge's Bennett Dudley runs the ball as he is flanked by teammate Teague Phillips during the Bobcats' 57-30 loss to Augusta.
Submitted Photo ~ Ginger Bibb
Nathan Hibbard
Staff Writer

In a battle for second place in the 2A-3 conference standings, the Augusta Red Devils defeated Walnut Ridge 57-30 Friday night at Sexton Field.

The loss dropped the Bobcats into the third position for the conference's playoff seeds. Walnut Ridge will travel to Woodlawn, located at Rison, for a playoff game on Friday.

Augusta wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, when quarterback Cordell Turner passed to Matt Bowen for a 51-yard touchdown on the game's first play. The extra point gave the Red Devils a 7-0 lead just 13 seconds into the game.

Walnut Ridge responded with a scoring drive on their first offensive possession, capped by Bennett Dudley's five-yard run. Eric Wilcoxson ran for the two-point conversion, giving the Bobcats an 8-7 lead.

The Bobcats' defense set up the next score, when Tristan Fernandez recovered an Augusta fumble at the Red Devils' 38-yard line. Wilcoxson ran 13 yards for a Bobcat touchdown to put Walnut Ridge ahead 14-7 with 1:48 to play in the first quarter.

Augusta fumbled again on their next possession and the Bobcats' Kyle Simms pounced on the loose ball at the Walnut Ridge 40-yard line. Dudley capped the ensuing possession with a one-yard touchdown run with 11:13 to play in the second quarter. Dudley then passed to Derek Medlock for the two-point conversion and a 22-7 Walnut Ridge lead.

Augusta put together a scoring drive on their next possession. Octavius Lockhart scored from a yard out to trim the Cats' lead to 22-14, following the extra point.

On their following possession, Walnut Ridge drove deep into Augusta territory before a Luke Holloway pass was intercepted by the Red Devils' Tim Finley. Finley returned the pick 89 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion tied the game at 22-22.

Walnut Ridge regained the lead on their opening possession of the second half. Dudley scored his third touchdown of the game on a one-yard run with 7:40 remaining in the third quarter. Dudley again passed to Medlock for the two-point conversion to give the Cats a 30-22 lead.

The lead would prove to be short-lived, as Augusta returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion tied the game at 30-30 with 7:26 to play in the period.

After the Augusta defense forced a three-and-out, a short Walnut Ridge punt gave the Red Devils the ball at the Bobcat 31-yard line. Augusta covered the short field in five plays to take a 37-30 lead.

The Bobcat offense again drove into Augusta territory before turning the ball over on downs at the Red Devil 26-yard line midway through the fourth quarter.

Augusta put the game away with a touchdown at the 7:22 mark, making the score 43-30, then added two more scores late in the game to set the final score.

"It was a tough loss to a very good Augusta ballclub," said Walnut Ridge head coach Larry Treadway. "We aren't going to let one loss spoil what has been a great season. Now, we are going to regroup and get ready to go to Woodlawn. We are excited to be back in the playoffs."

Dudley finished with 253 yards rushing on 36 carries. Wilcoxson had 163 yards on 24 carries.

Dylan Wills led the Walnut Ridge defense with nine tackles.

Walnut Ridge finished the regular season with a 6-2 record in the 2A-3 conference and a 7-3 overall record.

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