PRAIRIE GROVE -- Thursday's junior high gridiron 'Battle of 62' resembled a professional wrestling handicap match where one competitor comes out handcuffed.
Before his handlers can get the cuffs removed his opponent lays into him and in short order he finds himself at a serious disadvantage of having any hope of winning the match. Just when he appears to discover an opening to land a decisive blow an invisible rug gets pulled out from under his feet. This script repeats bringing fans either into a frenzy or frustration depending upon who they are cheering for.
Farmington faced this scenario Thursday looking at a 28-0 halftime deficit to Prairie Grove in the junior high football edition of the 'Battle of 62.' Prairie Grove unleashed its running back attack consistently springing runners on the edge for long gains.
"We pretty much out-sized them. Our guys, we're doing pretty well. We made a few mistakes, but the first game you expect that. They executed fairly well on the sweep, sweep blocking went well," said Prairie Grove coach John Elder.
Prairie Grove received the opening kickoff and marched 71 yards in 8 plays capped by Ethan Miller's 56-yard touchdown jaunt. During the drive they converted a fourth-and-one with quarterback Tate Benoit powering for 3 yards. Marshall Prince ran in the 2-point conversion from eight yards out after a penalty and the junior Tigers led 8-0 with 3:58 left in the first quarter.
Farmington also tried to run on fourth down, but punter Sam Wells was dropped for a 4-yard loss by Rhett Marrell giving the junior Tigers prime field position at Farmington's 36. Three plays later Miller scored on a sweep, gaining 23 yards at the 1:17 mark of the first period. Marrell added a 2-point run with a second effort aided by his offensive line pushing the pile forward.
Farmington got a good return on the ensuing kickoff with Peyton Funk running out to the Cardinal 47 before Miller brought him down. Prairie Grove stood up a runner and Marrell ripped the ball out of his hands as the first quarter ended with the junior Tigers up 16-0.
Prairie Grove's only mistake of the first half occurred on the opening play of the second quarter when Benoit overthrew tight end Matthew Velasco and Funk intercepted, returning the ball 18 yards to the Cardinal 48.
The junior Cardinals turned the ball back over to Prairie Grove with Zeke Rose recovering a fumble to end a streak of turnovers on three straight plays. Marrell dashed 36 yards to the house, and Prairie Grove opened up a 22-0 advantage with 6:45 showing on the second quarter clock although pressure by Farmington's Andrew Disheroon foiled a 2-point pass attempt.
Will Hellard found an opening and demonstrated his explosiveness returning the kickoff inside Prairie Grove's 10, but Miller never gave up on the play, chasing him down from behind and poking the ball out. Gavin Butler recovered in the end zone for a touchback, stealing Farmington's thunder. At the end of the play four black jerseys surrounded the ball with nobody other than Hellard even close for Farmington.
"That was a big play. Ethan was out of position, hustled back and did a great job for us there. What do you say about him? He's a great player," Elder said. "That was big for our guys. Those ninth graders understand that and they know how to be around the ball and hustle. I liked our hustle even on defense going after that quarterback or the running back."
Prairie Grove picked up one first down, then found itself dealing with first-and-20 following back-to-back false start penalties. Miller took care of that, getting all the yardage necessary for a first down and more as he rambled 79 yards for his third touchdown of the half.
Farmington foiled the conversion attempt but trailed 28-0 at the half. The rivals matched one another point-for-point in the second half with each team scoring a touchdown and adding a 2-point conversion to make the final 36-8.
Sam Wells had a 12-yard touchdown run and Cameron Vanzant ran in the 2-point conversion for Farmington. Conner Whetsell countered with a 67-yard touchdown scamper and Marrell ran for the Tiger 2-point conversion. Prairie Grove's win broke a two-game Farmington winning streak and was the first for the junior Tigers since a 28-8 victory on Sept. 1, 2016.
Prairie Grove takes on Dardanelle Thursday at home while Farmington hosted Fayetteville White Monday.
PRAIRIE GROVE 36, FARMINGTON 8
Prairie Grove -- Ethan Miller 56-yard run (Marshall Prince run), 3:58.
Prairie Grove -- Ethan Miller 23-yard run (Rhett Marrell run), 1:17.
Prairie Grove -- Rhett Marrell 36-yard run (Pass failed), 6:45.
Prairie Grove -- Ethan Miller 79-yard run (Run failed), 1:17.
Farmington -- Sam Wells 12-yard run (Cameron Vanzant run).
Prairie Grove -- Conner Whetsell 67-yard run (Rhett Marrell run).
Sports on 09/11/2019
Print Headline: Junior Tiger Runningback Attack