November 03, 2010 Edition

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Walnut Ridge's Preston Matthews runs the ball as he receives blocking assistance from Dallin Ginn (from left), Hunter Ingram and Logan Brady on Friday night. The Bobcats posted a 48-24 victory over Cross County.
Submitted Photo ~ Ashley George

Cats overwhelm Cross County

Nathan Hibbard
Staff Writer

Walnut Ridge defeated Cross County 48-24 in senior high football Friday night at Sexton Field. The Bobcats improved to 7-1 overall and 5-1 in 2A-3 conference play and can claim the conference championship with a win at Augusta on Thursday night.

A 45-yard run by Preston Matthews on Walnut Ridge's first possession set up the Bobcats first score. Payton Poole capped the drive with a 15-yard scoring toss to Richie Ward. Ward kicked the PAT for a 7-0 Bobcat lead with 10:50 to play in the first quarter.

After forcing a Cross County punt, Walnut Ridge stretched its lead to 13-0 on a 24-yard run by Eric Wilcoxson with 7:51 to play in the opening period.

Cross County got on the scoreboard with an 18-yard run by Blake Veasley to bring the Thunderbirds to within 13-6 with 6:02 remaining in the first quarter.

Walnut Ridge responded with another touchdown drive of its own, capped by Matthews' four-yard run. Ward added the PAT to give the Bobcats a 20-6 lead with 4:38 to play in the quarter.

Veasley broke loose for a 40-yard touchdown run on the Thunderbirds' next possession to cut Walnut Ridge's lead to 20-12 at the end of the first quarter.

After having two touchdowns negated by penalty, the Bobcats added to their lead on Zach Carson's 19-yard reception with 6:50 to play in the second period. Ward's PAT put Walnut Ridge ahead 27-12.

Jake Veasley passed 34 yards to Darrian Hare to bring Cross County to within 27-18 with 44 seconds remaining in the half.

Walnut Ridge then recovered Cross County's onside kick at midfield. The Bobcats needed just four plays to find the end zone again, as Payton Poole scored on a four-yard quarterback keeper with just six seconds on the clock. Ward's extra point gave Walnut Ridge a 34-18 halftime advantage.

After a scoreless third quarter, Teague Phillips ran for a two-yard touchdown midway through the final period. Ward kicked the PAT to Walnut Ridge up 41-18 with 7:28 to play in the game.

Mark Hudson's seven-yard run for Cross County made the score 41-24 with 5:10 to play. Poole scored on a 14-yard run with 3:29 remaining, and Ward's PAT set the final score.

Poole completed nine-of-13 passes for 116 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Matthews rushed for 139 yards on 12 carries, while Wilcoxson added 136 yards on 12 carries.

Defensively, Ward led the Bobcats with 11 tackles, including two sacks. Phillips made eight tackles and forced a fumble. Eric Huff and Hunter Yates each had an interception.

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