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story.lead_photo.caption MARK HUMPHREY ENTERPRISE-LEADER Prairie Grove Junior High quarterback Paytin Higgins hands off to Ethan Miller. The junior Tigers suffered a 28-14 setback against Shiloh Christian on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018.

PRAIRIE GROVE -- Shiloh Christian handed Prairie Grove its first conference loss in junior high football to the tune of a 28-14 score Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018.

A key sequence that factored in the tone of the game occurred with Shiloh leading 7-0 in the first quarter. The junior Tigers stopped a Saint drive bolstered by Evan Foster's quarterback sack on second down. Shiloh turned the ball over on downs as Prairie Grove again turned up the heat hitting the quarterback as he threw, causing an incomplete pass on fourth-and-22 from the junior Tiger 32.

Prairie Grove went for it on fourth-and-1 busting a big play with Ethan Miller running for a first down near midfield. A flag brought the yardage back. Prairie Grove coach John Elder called time-out staking his claim that his player was simply protecting himself when a Saint lunged at his legs, but the call wasn't overturned and the junior Tigers punted.

Shiloh took advantage of a short field when the punt didn't travel far and was returned to the original line of scrimmage at the junior Tiger 34. Prairie Grove made them earn the touchdown, but score Shiloh did - needing 10 plays to travel 34 yards. A 2-point run attempt was met by Prairie Grove applying the hammer on defense and failed. Still, the Saints led 13-0.

The kickoff was bobbled and Prairie Grove started from its own 26. The junior Tigers got back in the game with three consecutive plays for positive yardage traversing 74 yards. Miller ran for 7 yards off left tackle, then Asher Sam added another 7-yard carry picking up a first down at Prairie Grove's 40-yard-line. From there quarterback Paytin Higgins improvised to connect with Miller on a sensational 60-yard touchdown pass. Sprinting to his right, Higgins was cut off. He reversed field and ran back to his left throwing on the run to Miller, who left all Saints in the dust.

Asked if the play happened by design, Elder shrugged and grinned, "He (Miller) is a legitimate receiver on that."

Higgins booted the point-after and Prairie Grove drew within, 13-7, with 3:29 remaining in the first half.

Prairie Grove nearly pulled off another similar play airing it out with 30 seconds left in the half. Higgins threw deep with the pass intended for Miller getting a step behind 1-on-1 coverage but the ball fell incomplete.

"We had a couple of chances, a couple of chances to make big plays on them," Elder said. "We just didn't execute."

The teams traded scores in the third quarter. Miller recovered a Shiloh fumble and ran the ball back 40 yards for a touchdown.

"He scooped up a fumble and scored," Elder said, noting Miller recorded his second defensive touchdown of the year on the play.

The Saints led 21-14 going into the fourth and added an insurance touchdown on Ben Baker's 16-yard run at the 6:49 mark of the fourth.

Despite the loss, Elder thinks the junior Tigers will continue to progress as the season goes along.

"They're younger, this group, but they're going to be all right," Elder said.

NOTE: By virtue of a win over Elkins Thursday, Prairie Grove earned a rematch with Shiloh for the 4A-1 Junior High championship. The junior Tigers host the Saints Thursday with kickoff at 7 p.m.

Sports on 10/31/2018

Print Headline: Junior Tigers Suffer First Conference Loss To Shiloh

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