October 03, 2012 Edition

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Bobcat Cole Hicks moves the ball down the field for Walnut Ridge during a close loss to East Poinsett County, 42-40, on Friday night at Sexton Field.
Submitted Photo ~ Ashley George

WR drops close game to EPC

Nathan Hibbard
Staff Writer

In a game full of offensive fireworks, a pair of key defensive plays proved to be the difference. East Poinsett County turned a late Walnut Ridge turnover into the go-ahead touchdown, then stopped the Bobcats on a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line in the final seconds to preserve a 42-40 victory in 2A-3 Conference action Friday night at Sexton Field.

Walnut Ridge scored the only points of the first quarter on their first possession of the game, when quarterback Zach Crisler tossed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Eric Wilcoxson. Crisler ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 Bobcat lead.

The Bobcats extended their lead to 16-0 on Wilcoxson's four-yard run early in the second quarter. Crisler passed to Hunter Flippo for the two-point conversion.

EPC cut the lead in half when Jammar Sturdivant raced 19 yards for a Warrior touchdown. Sturdivant ran in the conversion to bring EPC to within 16-8.

Cole Hicks scored on a 15-yard run with 2:08 to play in the half, and Wilcoxson added the conversion to push the Bobcats' lead to 24-8.

The Warriors' responded quickly, as Trevor McDaniel broke loose for a 57-yard score. Quarterback Aaron Scales added the two-point conversion to bring EPC to within 24-16 at halftime.

EPC scored the first points of the second half when Scales passed 15 yards to Caleb Harston with 5:36 to play in the third quarter. Walnut Ridge's defense stopped the Warriors' conversion attempt to preserve a 24-22 advantage.

Crisler gave the Bobcats some breathing room with a five-yard touchdown run with 10 seconds to play in the period. Crisler then ran in the conversion to give Walnut Ridge a 32-22 lead entering the final quarter.

Scales connected with McDaniel on a 58-yard scoring pass on their next possession. The two-point conversion made the score 32-30 early in the fourth period.

Walnut Ridge's ensuing drive covered 68 yards and was capped by Wilcoxson's five-yard run. Wilcoxson added the two-point conversion to extend the Bobcats' lead to 40- 30 with 6:42 to play.

The Warriors answered when Scales found Harston for an 18-yard score with 4:34 remaining. Once again, the Cats' defense prevented the conversion, keeping their lead at 40-36.

East Poinsett's defense came up with their first big play when McDaniel intercepted a Bobcat pass at midfield and returned to the 24-yard line. Scales capped the Warriors' drive with the go-ahead touchdown with 1:42 to play in the game.

Walnut Ridge drove the ball to the Warriors' one-yard line before being stopped on downs in the closing seconds.

Crisler completed 11-of-21 passes, for 125 yards and a touchdown. He was also the Cats' leading rusher, gaining 106 yards

Walnut Ridge finished with 432 yards of total offense, including 307 yards rushing.

Hicks led the Bobcats on defense, with seven tackles and one sack. Crisler also recorded seven tackles. Rowdy Ditto and Wilcoxson each finished with six tackles and one sack apiece. Wilcoxson also recovered a fumble.

Walnut Ridge dropped to 1-1 in the 2A-3 standings and 3-1 overall. The Bobcats take to the road to face Cross County on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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