November 16, 2011 Edition

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WR falls in close game
to finish 2011 season

Walnut Ridge's Jake Smith tackles a Hazen ball-carrier during Friday night's state playoff game. The Bobcats ended the season with a 40-37 loss.
Submitted Photo ~ Ashley George
Nathan Hibbard
Staff Writer

The Hazen Hornets scored the game's final 14 points to overtake the Walnut Ridge Bobcats 40-37 in the first round of the 2A state playoffs Friday night at Hazen.

Walnut Ridge led by as many as 13 points following Tyler Clement's two-yard touchdown run. Zach Crisler passed to Hunter Flippo for the conversion to put the Bobcats up 31-18 with 3:50 to play in the second quarter.

Hazen's Matt Tenison scored on a 49-yard run as time expired in the first half. The two-point conversion cut the Cats' lead to 31-26 at halftime.

Walnut Ridge extended its lead to 37-26 when Crisler connected with Eric Wilcoxson on a one-yard touchdown pass with 6:26 to play in the third quarter.

The Hornets answered on their next possession when Devan Bond hit Tenison with a 28-yard scoring pass. Tenison ran in the conversion to bring Hazen to within 37-34 after three periods.

The only points of the fourth quarter came on Cameron Bell's two-yard run with 2:29 left in the game to give the Hornets their winning margin.

Hazen grabbed a 6-0 lead on Tenison's 18-yard run in the opening period. Walnut Ridge tied the game when Wilcoxson broke free for a 27-yard scoring run with 5:54 to play in the quarter. Cason McQuay's PAT gave the Bobcats a 7-6 edge.

Tenison put the Hornets back in the lead with an eight-yard run with 3:38 remaining in the first quarter. Walnut Ridge stopped the try for two points to keep the score at 12-7.

The Bobcats used another big play to regain the lead when Wilcoxson scored on a 30-yard reception from Crisler. Crisler then ran in the conversion, and the Cats led 15-12 after one period of play.

Bond threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Tenison on the first play of the second quarter, as Hazen regained the lead at 18-15.

The back-and-forth game continued when Walnut Ridge's Teague Phillips scored on a three-yard run with seven minutes to play in the first half. Crisler hit Cole Hicks for the conversion and a 23-18 Bobcat lead.

The high-scoring game featured several standout offensive performances.

Tenison had a huge game for the Hornets, rushing for 211 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught a pair of touchdown passes and had another reception for a two-point conversion, to account for 32 of Hazen's points.

For Walnut Ridge, Crisler completed 16-of-24 passes, for 217 yards and two touchdowns. He added 26 yards rushing.

Wilcoxson finished with 126 rushing yards and one touchdown on 13 carries. He had three receptions for 39 yards and two scores.

Zach Carson had seven receptions for 100 yards.

Also for the Bobcats, Phillips ran for 93 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Hicks had 15 yards on three carries, and Clement added seven yards and a touchdown on three carries.

Flippo had four receptions for 50 yards, and Hicks finished with two receptions for 28 yards.

Crisler led the Bobcats' defensive effort, recording 13 tackles and forcing a fumble. Wilcoxson had 12 tackles and two sacks, and Rowdy Ditto recorded 10 tackles.

Walnut Ridge ended their season with a record of five wins and five losses. After starting the season 1-4, the Bobcats won their final four regular season games to earn a playoff berth. The Cats finished 4-3 in 2A-3 conference play.

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