December 3, 2014 Edition

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Hoxie quarterback Cole Sears picks up some yardage for the Mustangs, as James Johnson blocks a defender during the quarterfinals of the Class 3A State Playoffs in Booneville on Friday night.
Submitted Photo ~ David Dobbs

Mustangs end season
at state quarterfinals

Nathan Hibbard
Staff Writer

Hoxie quarterback Cole Sears accounted for seven touchdowns and over 400 yards of offense, but the Mustangs' football season came to an end in a 63-47 loss to the Booneville Bearcats in the quarterfinals of the 3A state playoffs Friday night at Booneville.

Booneville led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, but Hoxie tied the game 7-7 on Sears' one-yard run, followed by Casey Middlecoff's extra point, early in the second period.

The Bearcats got touchdown runs of 45 yards from Matthew Berry and 49 yards by Josh Smith to move out to a 21-7 lead late in the quarter.

Sears brought Hoxie to within 21-13 with a one-yard run 44 seconds before halftime.

Booneville began their ensuing possession at their own 32-yard line, but a 47-yard pass completion put the Bearcats in scoring position at Hoxie's 21-yard line. Berry capped the drive with a 15-yard run with seven seconds remaining to give Booneville a 28-13 halftime lead.

The Bearcats stretched their advantage to 35-13 on a 29-yard run by Smith on their first possession of the second half.

Sears found James Johnson with a 33-yard scoring pass to bring the Mustangs to within 35-19, but Berry broke loose for a 55-yard touchdown to extend Booneville's lead to 42-19.

Sears connected with Johnson again, this time for a 54-yard score. A two-point conversion cut the Bearcats' lead to 42-27 at the end of the third quarter.

The teams continued trading touchdowns throughout the fourth quarter.

James Ray tossed a 15-yard touchdown to Smith to put Booneville ahead 49-27. Hoxie responded with a drive that was capped by Sears' one-yard keeper to close the gap to 49-33 with 10:46 to play in the game.

Smith scored his fourth touchdown on a 12-yard run to make the score 56-33. Dylan Littlejohn hauled in a 51-yard catch from Sears to bring the Mustangs to within 56-40.

Following a touchdown by Booneville's Bryson May, Sears scored his final touchdown on an 11-yard run late in the game. Middlecoff's PAT provided the final point.

Hoxie ended the season with an 11-2 overall record, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs for the second consecutive year.

"I am very proud of what our seniors were able to accomplish in their careers. They were undefeated as seventh-graders, conference champions as ninth-graders and conference champions as juniors and seniors. They ended their high school careers with a record of 29-7," said Hoxie head coach Tom Sears. " This group had tremendous character. The way they led our program will be beneficial for many years to come. They did things right."

Cole Sears was 20/28 passing, for 353 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 54 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries.

Gunner Cook added 47 yards rushing on 11 carries.

Littlejohn led the Mustang receivers with six catches for 119 yards and a touchdown. Johnson had five catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Hunter Wilson had three receptions for 47 yards, and Cook caught three passes for 44 yards. Austen Blocker added three catches for 23 yards.

Steven Arnold led Hoxie's defense with 11 tackles. Austin Williams and Gunner Riggs each recorded eight tackles. Seth Wagoner and Hunter Wilson each had five tackles. Chase Spradlin made four tackles. Hunter Wadkins, Sam Hatfield, Blake Mullen and Dylan Cheatham each had three tackles. Aaron French, Drake Ditto and Rylee Lewis each had two tackles. Tyler Ward and Sears had one tackle apiece. Wilson forced a fumble, and French recoverd a fumble.

"Our fan support and enthusiasm Friday night was unbelievable. To see a packed visitors bleachers at a game over four hours away shows how far we have come as a football program as a whole. The coaches and players would like to thank everyone for their support throughout the year," said Sears.

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