BY RICK WRIGHT –
The Mena Bearcats, with Head Bearcat Football Coach Tim Harper and his staff, knocked off the Arkadelphia Badgers 23-21 to put themselves in position for a state playoff birth, and spoiled the Badger’s Homecoming celebration Friday, October 14th in Arkadelphia.
Bearcat kicker Christian Lua kicked off to get the contest underway. The Badgers marched 75 yards in six plays to score on a 33 yard touchdown run with 10:06 to play in the opening quarter. The extra point made the score 7-0.
Arkadephia marched 59 yards in 11 plays to score on a seven yard touchdown pass with two minutes remaining in the first quarter. The extra point lifted the Badgers to a 14-0 advantage.
Mena answered with just 21 seconds to go in the quarter when Bearcat Justin Dean sprinted 50 yards for a touchdown, capping a five play 66 yard scoring drive. Camden Brodersen added the extra point to cut the Badger’s lead to 14-7.
With about nine minutes to go in the third quarter, Bearcat Landon Stidman punted the ball to the Badger’s two yard line. Two plays later, Bearcat Conner Hendricks smashed a Badger running back who fumbled the ball. Mena’s Ryan Ozanich scooped up the loose ball and scored a Bearcat touchdown. With Brodersen’s extra point, the game was tied 14-14.
Later in the third quarter, Mena faced a fourth and 19 at their own 32. The punt snap from center was fumbled and the Badgers took over at the Mena 25. Arkadelphia advanced the ball to the Mena 12 where on third and nine, Bearcat Elijah Snider intercepted a Badger pass and returned the pick to the Mena 47 yard line.
The Bearcats opened the fourth quarter with a first and 10 at the Arkadelphia 16. Four plays later, Brodersen kicked a 27 yard field goal to give the Bearcats their first lead of the game at 17-14.
Arkadelphia answered with a 64 yard drive, scoring on an 11 yard touchdown pass with 6:40 left to play in the game. The exta point put the Badgers back on top 21-17.
With 3:08 left in the game, after a Badger timeout, Arkadelphia went for it on a fourth and three at the Mena 26 yard line. Bearcats Dean and Devin Belknap slammed the door on the Badger’s running back to turn the ball over to the Bearcats on downs at the Mena 30 yard line.
On first and 10, Bearcat quarterback Carson Cannon pump faked a pass, then threw the ball to Dean who went all the way to complete a 70 yard touchdown pass play with 2:51 to play in the game. The extra point hold was bobbled, leading to an unsuccessful extra point, leaving the score Mena 23, Arkadephia 21.
The Badgers returned Lua’s kickoff to the Arkadephia 37 yard line with 1:50 to play. The Badgers steadily moved the ball down field, picking up a first down by just inches at the Mena 27 yard line. With 30 second left on the clock, Bearcat Jackson Sullivan made perhaps his biggest play of the season, by sacking the Badger quarterback for a big loss back at the Mena 36 yard line. With just three seconds left to go, Arkadephia attempted a 44 yard field goal for the win. The kick came up just short, lifting the Bearcats to a 23-21 victory.
The Bearcats host the Nashville Scrappers Friday, October 21st with the kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. in Bearcat Stadium.