photo by TAMMY HOBSON
Mountainburg’s Robert Nolan is taken down after gaining yardage during Friday’s Class 2A playoff game at Dragon Field. Rison won the first-round game 52-6.
It was apparent early that Rison’s 215-mile trip from Cleveland County had no adverse effect on the Wildcats on Friday.
Mountainburg can vouch for that.
Rison gouged the Dragons for 528 yards – all on the ground – while smothering their offense in a 52-6 rout in the first round of the 2A state playoffs. JoKenzie Broughton led the onslaught with 222 yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries, including scoring runs of 99 and 59 yards.
“I haven’t seen a football team like that in quite a while,” Mountainburg coach Tom Harrell said of Rison. “We were outmanned from the word ‘go.’ That conference is just head and shoulders better. There’s five or six teams down there better than anybody we’ve played all year, with the exception of maybe Cedarville early in the year. When I got film (of Rison), I knew exactly what we were in for.”
The Wildcats (7-3), the No. 3 seed out of the rugged 2A-8, advances to play Magnet Cove next week. The Dragons (5-6), the No. 3 seed from the 2A-4, ended their season with three consecutive losses.
Mountainburg, playing without injured starting quarterback Josh Skattebo, alternated senior Trey Allen and freshman Quency Pixley under center. Despite combining for 18-of-23 passing, most of the Dragons’ completions were quickly snuffed out by Rison’s swarming defense. The Wildcats also held Mountainburg to 15 rushing yards.
The Dragons finally found the end zone with 8:17 remaining in the game. Pixley led a 10-play, 69-yard drive, highlighted by a 29-yard hookup with Tyler Patterson. Pixley capped the drive by hitting Robert Nolen for a 3-yard score.
Broughton’s 59-yard TD run midway through the second quarter gave Rison a 40-0 lead and invoked the Arkansas Activities Association mercy rule. Rison rolled up 427 yards of offense in the first half.
Rison coach Clay Totty said the 2A-8 provides strong competition, but said it’s hard to gauge that in the playoffs.
“We’re very respectful of Mountainburg; they beat us up here in ’07,” he said. “I know (Skattebo) not getting to play, that affects your morale, not only your ability. He’s certainly a good player and he would’ve changed things.”
Harrell said his Dragons have “a great young group coming up,” many of whom played extensively Friday.
“We had a great season, they got some experience and I think there’s going to be better days for us than tonight,” Harrell said. “From where we started to where we ended, we made dramatic improvements.”