November 10, 2010 Edition

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Bobcats claim conference title

Bobcat Teague Phillips (#22) runs the ball as quarterback Payton Poole runs up the field looking to make a block during Walnut Ridge's 43-24 victory over Augusta to claim the conference title.
Submitted Photo ~ Ashley George

Nathan Hibbard
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge Bobcats used a big second half to blow past Augusta for a 43-24 victory Thursday night at Augusta. The win clinched a share of the 2A-3 conference championship for the Bobcats.

Walnut Ridge and McCrory both finished the regular season with 6-1 league records, but the Bobcats received the conference's top playoff seed due to their 18-0 victory over McCrory on Sept. 24. Walnut Ridge will host Parkers Chapel, the fifth-place team from conference 2A-8, at Sexton Field on Friday night.

Against Augusta, Walnut Ridge struck first when Payton Poole passed to Zach Carson for a 14-yard touchdown. Richie Ward kicked the extra point to give the Cats a 7-0 lead with 3:04 to play in the first quarter.

Augusta responded with two quick scores, aided by a Bobcat turnover, to take the lead.

Cordell Turner's two-yard quarterback keeper early in the second period capped the Red Devils' first scoring drive. The Bobcats stopped the conversion attempt to maintain a 7-6 lead.

After recovering a Walnut Ridge fumble, the Red Devils took the lead on Henry Poindexter's 12-yard run with 10:45 to play in the second quarter. The Cats' defense again denied the conversion, keeping Augusta's advantage at 12-7.

Walnut Ridge regained the lead when Poole found Ward for an 18-yard touchdown with 6:01 to play before halftime. Ward added the PAT to put the Bobcats ahead 14-12.

Turner scored on another two-yard run with 26 seconds left in the period, as the Red Devils carried an 18-14 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Walnut Ridge moved back in front on Poole's third touchdown pass of the night, this one a 16-yard toss to Ward on the Bobcats' first possession of the second half. Ward's PAT gave Walnut Ridge a 21-18 edge with 9:32 to play in the third period.

After a defensive stop, Preston Matthews scored on a 14-yard run. Ward added the extra point to extend the Bobcats' lead to 28-18 after three quarters.

Following the score, Walnut Ridge tried to catch the Red Devils off guard with an onside kick. Augusta recovered the kick to set up their next score. Jordan Brown caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Turner to bring the Red Devils to within 28-24 with 9:18 to play in the game.

The Bobcats answered on their following possession when Matthews broke loose for a 30-yard scoring run with 6:54 to play. Matthews then ran in the two-point conversion for a 36-24 lead.

Eric Wilcoxson scored on a five-yard run on the Cats' next possession to seal the game. Ward's PAT set the final score.

Matthews rushed for 212 yards on 21 carries to lead the Cats' ground attack. Wilcoxson ran for 114 yards on 17 attempts.

Poole completed nine-of-11 passes for 129 yards and three touchdowns.

Rowdy Ditto led Walnut Ridge's defense with 16 tackles, and Matthews had 15. Poole and Ward each had an interception.

Kickoff for Friday's game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5 for all ages. Ticket prices for playoff games are set by the Arkansas Activities Association.

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