November 18, 2015 Edition

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Hoxie's James Johnson (left) and teammate Diamani Davis wait for the call after Johnson scored a three-yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper on Friday night. The score was the Mustangs' third of the game and proved to be the winning touchdown in the 21-14 game.
Submitted Photo ~ David Dobbs

Mustangs advance in state playoffs

Nathan Hibbard
Staff Writer

James Johnson rushed for 210 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Hoxie Mustangs to a 21-14 victory over the Fouke Panthers in the first round of the 3A State Football Playoffs Friday night at Crider Field. The win allows the Mustangs to host a second-round game Friday night against the Glen Rose Beavers.

Turnovers plagued the Panthers early in the contest, as they coughed up the ball twice in first quarter. Hoxie took advantage of their second takeaway when Johnson capped an 18-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown with 4:21 to play. Casey Middlecoff added the extra point and Hoxie took a 7-0 lead.

Fouke tied the game on a five-yard run from Jarret Easley in the second quarter.

An interception by Diamani Davis gave the Mustangs possession at the Fouke 25-yard line. Johnson put Hoxie back on top with a 22-yard run two plays later. Middlecoff's PAT gave the Mustangs a 14-7 advantage with 3:44 to play in the first half.

Hoxie received the second-half kickoff and marched 75 yards for another score. Johnson's three-yard run capped a 14-play drive with 6:29 left in the quarter. Middlecoff added his third PAT to increase the Mustangs' lead to 21-7.

It was Fouke's turn to capitalize on a Hoxie turnover when they recovered a fumble at the Mustangs' 16-yard line. Easley scored from five yards out to close to within 21-14 with 8:36 left in the game.

After receiving the ensuing kickoff, the Hoxie offense was able to melt valuable time off the clock before punting the ball back to the Panthers with 2:25 remaining.

Hoxie's defense then took over, stopping the Panthers on four downs to get the ball back and secure the victory.

"I was very pleased with our effort and desire," said Hoxie head coach Tom Sears. "We are excited at the opportunity to have a second-round game at home. I hope everyone will come out and support us."

Glen Rose has a 9-2 record and are the second seed from the 5-3A Conference. The gates will open at Crider Field at 5 p.m. and kickoff is set for 7.

Against Fouke, Johnson finished with 210 yards rushing on 31 carries. He completed two passes for 21 yards.

Davis added 94 yards on 14 carries. Samuel Hatfield had one carry for 19 yards, and Austen Blocker had one carry for 10 yards.

Blocker had one reception for 11 yards, and Wesley Wright caught one pass for 10 yards.

Dylan Cheatham led the Mustangs' defensive effort with 12 tackles. Gunner Riggs had eight tackles, and Colton Robins added seven. Seth Wagoner and Tyler Ward each were credited with six tackles, and Hatfield had five. Chandler Stroud recorded four tackles. Davis finished with three tackles and an interception, while Caleb Littlejohn also had three tackles. Middlecoff had two tackles and a fumble recovery, and Johnson had one tackle and a fumble recovery.

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