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Tigers improve to 2-0

Prairie Grove handles Gravette, 44-22, goes to Tulsa this week by Mark Humphrey | September 13, 2023 at 11:33 a.m.
Mark Humphrey/Enterprise-Leader/Prairie Grove senior tight end David Stephens got behind the Gravette secondary to make a 24-yard reception in the first half as the Tigers defeated Gravette, 44-22, in Friday's nonconference football game at Tiger Den Stadium. He later returned an interception 48 yards to the Lions' one to set up Prairie Grove's final touchdown.

PRAIRIE GROVE -- Gravette didn't look a gift horse in the mouth, benefiting from a slough of penalties, relaunching its offense from a critical fourth down and two consecutive third downs.

A deadball personal foul completely changed the game flow as officiating took over in the third quarter of Prairie Grove's 44-22 nonconference win at home in Tiger Den Stadium against Gravette Friday.

The zebras threw five flags against Prairie Grove over a 10-play span and walked off 40 yards, accounting for half of the Lions' yardage on the drive that got them back in the game. That bailed Gravette out of five incomplete passes on the drive.

The deadball personal foul penalty assessed against Prairie Grove on fourth-and-12 gave the Lions' offense new life. While Tiger fans were still trying to figure out what was said that constituted an infraction of the rules, Gravette faced second-and-eight with Prairie Grove linebacker Justin Bryars stuffing a run. A third down pass fell incomplete, but when a Tiger defensive back got tangled up with Lions on the sideline while defending the pass, the officials flagged him for a personal foul, another 15 yards and a first down, instead of third-and-eight.

Three plays later Gravette again faced a third down but the same scenario repeated with a flag against Prairie Grove awarding the Lions a first down, their third by penalty on the possession, and the officials weren't done yet.

Gabriel Holmes ran for 8 yards and somehow a 12-men-on-the-field penalty got tacked onto the end of his run, setting up a first-and-goal from the Tigers' eight. They threw yet another flag when Gravette quarterback Cameron Bedwell suffered an incomplete pass, but mysteriously pocketed it.

Holmes scored on second down from 8 yards out and Liam McGuire kicked the P.A.T., making the score 24-7 with 8:50 left in third quarter.

Prairie Grove answered with Joe Sims dragging tacklers, including one latched onto his facemask, for 24 yards to the Tigers' 47. There was no flag.

"Joe had a pretty good night and in between with Edwards and Hubbs on the edges, it's a pretty good 1-2-3 punch," said Prairie Grove coach Danny Abshier. "The fullback game was the better game, but with the speed on the edges it really opened up the inside."

On the next play Jace Edwards broke a tackle and stiff-armed away a defender before accelerating through the Gravette defense for a 53-yard touchdown run. Conner Hubbs added a 2-point conversion run.

Sophomore Conner Acosta (5-8, 138) returned the ensuing kickoff 22 yards, providing good starting field position for the Lions at their own 39. Gravette twice converted fourth downs while forging a 13-play, 61-yard scoring march. Holmes needed three yards on fourth down but got all 32 and a touchdown besides.

McGuire's P.A.T. kick made it 32-14, and Gravette, which dominated time of possession in the third quarter, scored again to narrow the gap to 32-22 early in the fourth with Kayden Brown catching a 5-yard touchdown pass from Bedwell. Holmes ran for a 2-point conversion.

The Lions wouldn't score again over the final 9:36 and could neither stop Prairie Grove when it counted, nor make up for a 24-0 halftime deficit.

Prairie Grove punched the ball in on its first two drives on short runs by Sims and Edwards, who also accounted for a pair of 2-point conversions.

Hubbs contributed a 29-yard interception runback for a touchdown, plus added a 2-point run. He jumped the route and Gravette had no chance to prevent him from scoring on defense.

"Hubbs' pick was as sweet as candy, he's fast," Abshier said.

The Tigers dominated the first half, running off 35 plays to 32 for the Lions. Gravette couldn't cash in on a foray that reached the Tiger seven before turning the ball over on downs in the last minute of the first half.

In the fourth quarter, Prairie Grove ground up yardage, utilizing its power back, Sims (6-3, 250), who picked up 34 yards on four consecutive carries, then went to its speed guy with Hubbs busting a 30-yard touchdown carry.

David Stephens' interception and 48-yard return to the Lions' one set up Luke Vance's naked bootleg touchdown scamper to seal the game with 2:06 showing.

"Stephens' ran the pick back to the one. That was really nice. He put himself in the right spot and the pass hit him in the belly," Abshier said.

Stephens also had a 24-yard reception in the first half from his tight end spot.

"That was a good toss and a good catch," Abshier said, wishing Stephens would have turned that into a touchdown.

Abshier noted the innovation of Vance at quarterback, scoring off a naked bootleg with the Lions poised to defend the interior.

"He did that on his own," Abshier said.

The nonconference game at Tiger Den Stadium featured two teams with more in common than most. Both have been long-time members of the 4A-1 Conference before Prairie Grove got bumped up to 5A football in 2022. The Lions were slated to join them in 2024, but as it turned out neither school will be 5A in 2024.

With the implementation of 'Competitive Equity' for private schools and caps on the number of teams in conferences, both Gravette and Prairie Grove will be 4A football schools in 2024.

Offensively, Gravette's Holmes finished with 25 carries for 186 yards and two touchdowns, while Bedwell passed for 146 yards.

Prairie Grove had two backs go over 100 yards rushing, Sims (12 for 117, 1 touchdown) and Edwards (12 for 111 yards, 2 touchdowns), while Hubbs also ran 12 times for 84 yards and a touchdown. Abshier hailed the play of sophomore backup quarterback Elijah Sugg. who had three carries for big yardage and to go with a productive 7-for-59 yard performance against Huntsville.

The Tigers outgained Gravette 418 to 391 in total offense. The Lions were most effective passing late in the first half but they failed to score and were never able to get that rhythm going again.

This week Prairie Grove goes to Tulsa for the first time since 1999, according to Tiger football historian Lynn Gregson. The Tigers take on Tulsa Metro Christian, a team which beat Prairie Grove, 41-21, last year, but graduated its starting quarterback and some top D-1 prospects on the defensive line.

Tulsa Metro Christian lost, 24-7, to Poteau, Okla. last week.

"Poteau's offense is nearly identical to ours," Abshier said.

Prairie Grove 44, Gravette 22


Prairie Grove^--^16^8^8^12^--^44

First Quarter

Prairie Grove -- Joe Sims 4-yard run (Jace Edwards run), 8:35.

Prairie Grove -- Jace Edwards 3-yard run (Conner Hubbs run), 3:00.

Second Quarter

Prairie Grove -- Conner Hubbs 29-yard interception return (Conner Hubbs run), 7:57.

Third Quarter

Gravette -- Gabriel Holmes 8-yard run (Liam McGuire kick), 8:50.

Prairie Grove -- Jace Edwards 53-yard run (Conner Hubbs run), 8:03.

Gravette -- Gabriel Holmes 32-yard run (Liam McGuire kick), 4:34.

Fourth Quarter

Gravette -- Kayden Brown 5-yard pass from Cameron Bedwell (Gabriel Holmes run), 9:36.

Prairie Grove -- Conner Hubbs 30-yard run (run failed), 4:21.

Prairie Grove -- Luke Vance 1-yard run (kick failed), 2:01.


Prairie Grove^Gravette

First downs^25^32

Total offense^418^391


Passing yards^62^146

Rush average^7.6^6.4



Third down^4-9^7-17

Fourth down^2-3^3-7


Fumbles lost^1^1




RUSHING -- Prairie Grove, Joseph Sims 12-117, Jace Edwards 12-111, Conner Hubbs 12-84, Elijah Sugg 3-31, Cale Bray 2-15, Blake Coughran 1-0, Luke Vance 4-0, Luke Bannon 1-(-2). Totals 47-356. Gravette, Gabriel Holmes 25-186, Jacob Gaylord 4-23, Josiah McGee 4-22, Kayden Brown 2-13, Zach Carson 1-2, Cameron Bedwell 2-(-1-). Totals, 38-245.

PASSING -- Prairie Grove, Luke Vance 4-11-62-0-0. Totals 3-11-62-1-0. Gravette, Cameron Bedwell 16-41-144-1-2.

RECEIVING -- Prairie Grove, Coner Hubbs 2-34, David Stephens 1-24, Joe Sims 1-4. Totals 4-62. Gravette, Conner Acosta 4-41, Ashton Spears 3-29, Kayden Brown 3-26, Jacob Gaylord 2-16, James Marta 2-14, Gabriel Holmes 1-13. Totals 16-146.

  photo  Mark Humphrey/Enterprise-Leader/Prairie Grove senior quarterback Luke Vance fakes a handoff to fullback Joe Sims before handing off to halfback Conner Hubbs. Multiple options on any given play present challenges for defenses facing the Tigers' Wing-T. Prairie Grove prevailed, 44-22, over Gravette in Friday's nonconference football game at Tiger Den Stadium.
  photo  Mark Humphrey/Enterprise-Leader/Gravette sophomore Kayden Brown comes up in run support to make a tackle on Prairie Grove's Jace Edwards after he got to the edge. The Tigers defeated the Lions, 44-22, in nonconference football action at Prairie Grove on Friday. Edwards finished with 111 yards rushing on 12 carries with touchdown runs of 53 and 3 yards.
  photo  Mark Humphrey/Enterprise-Leader/Prairie Grove veteran head football coach Danny Abshier checks on the team huddled in a new tunnel prior to kickoff against former 4A-1 foe, Gravette. The Tigers ran Abshier's Wing-T offense well, racking up 356 rushing yards in Friday's 44-22 win over Gravette at Tiger Den Stadium.
  photo  Mark Humphrey/Enterprise-Leader/Members of Prairie Grove's dance team formed part of the spirit line prior to the Tigers taking the field. Prairie Grove defeated Gravette, 44-22, in Friday's nonconference football game at Tiger Den Stadium.

Print Headline: Tigers improve to 2-0


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