BY EASTON LEONARD –
Last Friday, September 22nd, the Mena Bearcats (3-1) football team hosted the Ashdown Panthers (4-0) at Bearcat Stadium in the Hootens.com 4A Game of the Week.
The Panthers of Ashdown won the coin toss and chose to receive the ball to start the game.
Lua’s opening kickoff for the Bearcats was caught by #9 Anthony Nelson at the 16 yard line and tackled by Mena for no return.
Mena allowed the Panthers only eight yards of offense on their first offensive possession, including two incomplete passes, forcing Ashdown to punt. Ashdown’s punt was returned by Justin Dean down to the Panther 11 yard line.
The Bearcats were unable to get anything going against Ashdown’s defense, forcing Camden Brodersen to come on for the 29 yard field goal attempt. Brodersen’s field goal was good, giving Mena the early 3-0 lead with 9:31 left in the first quarter.
Nelson had a rough time returning Mena’s kickoff for the Panthers, following the field goal, as the Bearcats tackled him at the two yard line. However, seven plays later, after driving to the Mena nine yard line, Detravion Green ran into the end zone for a nine yard Panther touchdown. John Michael Molock’s point-after-attempt split the uprights for Ashdown, to make the score 3-7 with 6:57 left in the first.
Mena was forced to punt on their second offensive possession, as Ashdown took over on their own 36 yard line. Four plays into their third offensive possession, Detravion Green took the handoff and ran for a 20 yard Panther touchdown. Molock had no problem making the point-after-attempt for Ashdown, making the score 3-14 with 2:17 left in the first quarter.
As Mena was forced to punt yet again on their third offensive possession, Mississippi State commit Ladarrius Bishop returned the punt for another Panther touchdown. After a made point-after-attempt, Ashdown led 3-21 with 39.1 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Bearcats fourth offensive possession went into the second quarter, but Mena was forced to punt again. Devin Belknap’s nice punt for Mena, gave the Panthers the ball back at their own one yard line.
On first down from the one yard line, #4 and LSU football and baseball commit, Jaden Hill threw a 99 yard touchdown pass to #2 Patrick Christopher. Molock’s point-after-attempt split the uprights to make the score 3-28 with 9:54 left in first half.
Both teams went scoreless on their fifth offensive possessions, but on Ashdown’s sixth, on second and eight from the 34 yard line, #4 Hill threw a 66 yard touchdown pass to #9 Nelson. Molock made the point-after-attempt, making the score 3-35 with 3:35 left in the second quarter.
Ashdown’s defense forced the Bearcats to punt again on their seventh offensive possession, and after a bad punt, the Panthers took over on the Mena 36 yard line.
After three plays on their seventh offensive possession, on first and 10 at the 16 yard line, #4 Hill threw another touchdown pass, this time to #10 Green. After another made point-after-attempt, the Panthers led 3-42 with 3.2 seconds left in the first half.
The second quarter clock expired during the kickoff return, to make the score 3-42 in favor of the Ashdown Panthers at halftime.
Mena received the ball to start the second half, with the mercy rule continuous clock in affect. The Bearcats drove all the way from their own 34 to the Ashdown three yard line, where D1 prospect Justin Dean ran into the end zone for a three yard Bearcat touchdown run. #5 Lua’s point-after-attempt split the uprights for Mena, to make the score 10-42 with 2:20 left in the third quarter.
The Panthers eighth offensive possession went into the fourth and final quarter, as Ashdown drove from their own 12 to their own 42 before #10 Green took the handoff and ran 58 yards for a Panther touchdown. Following Molock’s made point-after-attempt for Ashdown, the Panthers led 10-49 with 11:27 left in the game.
Both Mena and Ashdown stayed scoreless for the remainder of the game, making the final score 10-49 in favor of the Panthers from Ashdown.
Mena will travel to Malvern this Friday, September 29th, to take on the Leopards (1-3). The Leopards will come into Friday’s game following a week one loss to Glen Rose (47-36), a week two loss to Lake Hamilton (56-27), a week three win against Lakeside (67-58), and a week four loss against Bauxite (53-49). Last season, the Bearcats defeated Malvern at Bearcat Stadium by a score of 45-21.
Kickoff for this Friday’s matchup in Malvern is set for 7:00pm. If you can’t make it to the game, make sure to tune in on KQOR 105.3 by downloading the app or catching the stream at MyPulseNews.com.