November 26, 2014 Edition

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Hoxie advances to 3A quarterfinals



Hoxie's Austen Blocker turns to run up the field after catching a pass from quarterback Cole Sears during a second-round state playoff game against McGehee on Friday night. The Mustangs will now travel to Booneville for a quarterfinal contest on Friday.
Submitted Photo ~ Cyndi Wheeless

Nathan Hibbard
Staff Writer

The Hoxie duo of Gunner Cook and Cole Sears proved more than the McGehee Owls could handle, as the Mustangs pulled away for a 56-28 victory in a second-round game in the 3A State Football playoffs Friday night at McGehee.

Hoxie led just 35-28 late in the third quarter before scoring the game's final 21 points to secure the win.

The Mustangs opened the scoring on Cook's 12-yard run with 7:43 to play in the first quarter. Casey Middlecoff, who was eight-for-eight on extra point attempts, gave Hoxie a 7-0 lead.

McGehee answered on their ensuing possession when Kaaion Parker got loose for a 66-yard score to even the game at 7-7.

Hoxie took a 14-7 lead on Sears' 66-yard pass to James Johnson later in the first quarter.

Parker scored on a four-yard run, as the Owls knotted the score 14-14 in the second quarter.

Hoxie opened some breathing room with two quick scores just before halftime. Sears capped a drive with a five-yard run to put Hoxie in front 21-14. After getting the ball back, Sears hit Johnson with an 11-yard scoring pass with 16 seconds to play in the half and Hoxie took a 28-14 lead into the locker room.

McGehee wasted no time in cutting into the lead when Parker returned the second-half kickoff 98 yards to bring the Owls to within 28-21.

Hoxie stretched the lead back to 35-21 on Sears' 18-yard pass to Hunter Wilson.

Jayse Snider scored on a one-yard run to bring McGehee to within 35-28 midway through the third quarter. It would be as close as the Owls would get.

Cook scored his second touchdown of the game on a five-yard run to give Hoxie a 42-28 advantage with 1:21 to play in the quarter.

The Mustangs put the game away with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Sears scored on a one-yard keeper with 8:09 to play in the game. Cook ran 37 yards for the game's final touchdown at the four-minute mark of the period. Middlecoff's eighth PAT provided the final point.

Sears was 12-of-20 passing, for 259 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 42 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.

Cook finished with 231 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 21 carries.

Johnson led the Mustangs receiving corps with four receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Austen Blocker had four catches for 89 yards. Dylan Littlejohn caught three passes for 29 yards, and Wilson had one reception for an 18-yard touchdown.

Gunner Riggs and Austin Williams each recorded nine tackles to lead the Mustangs' defensive unit. Steven Arnold and Wilson had seven tackles apiece. Chase Spradlin and Johnson each had six tackles. Seth Wagoner, Aaron French, Hunter Wadkins and Drake Ditto each had four tackles. Tyler Ward had two tackles and Samuel Hatfield had one tackle.

Riggs had an interception, and Arnold recovered a fumble. French and Wilson each had quarterback sacks.

The win sends Hoxie on to a quarterfinal matchup on the road against the Booneville Bearcats on Friday night. Booneville finished as runners-up in 3A-4 with a 6-1 record. Their only loss in conference play was to undefeated, and defending 3A state champion Charleston.

"On behalf of the team, coaching staff and myself, I would like to thank everyone who made the trip to McGehee," said Mustang head coach Tom Sears. "The support and enthusiasm was tremendous. I hope everyone will make the trip to Booneville this Friday."

Pep bus

A pep bus will provide transportation to Booneville on Friday. Any Hoxie High School student who has not had a discipline referral is welcome the ride the bus. The bus will begin loading at 12:30 p.m. in front of Hicks Gymnasium.

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