Special to the Commercial/William Harvey
Devonta Jenkins’ touchdown grab against El Dorado on Friday at Jordan Stadium kept Pine Bluff undefeated in the 7A/6A-South.
Pine Bluff went 81 yards in 16 plays to take a 21-6 lead on the opening drive of the second half, which was too much for El Dorado to overcome and it ended up being the final score.
The Zebras (7-1, 5-0 7A/6A-South) lined up to punt during the drive, though, but it turned out to be a fake with punter Austin McGehee. He gained just enough yards, 9, to get the first down and kept the key drive alive.
With Pine Bluff at El Dorado’s 39-yard line, McGehee took the deep snap and faked a handoff behind his back to Devarious Rice and then took off to his left.
Two El Dorado players were waiting for him at the 31-yard line, but McGehee was able to work his way to the 30-yard line.
The officials measured the spot and McGehee got the first down by a couple of inches.
“It was close and I didn’t know if we were going to make it,” Pine Bluff coach Bobby Bolding said. “It was close.”
Pine Bluff practice that play during the week before the game, and the fake punt worked flawlessly.
“When we ran it with our scout team, McGehee ran 80 yards and no one saw him with the ball,” Bolding said. “We didn’t think there would be anyone on that side.”
But when Bolding called the play, he made sure McGehee had a blocker just in case there would be at least one person waiting for him.
“We made an adjustment before we did it and I told (Rakeem) Leverett to go one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three and slip out there,” he said. “I told him there may be someone out there to block and there was two of them.”
McGehee’s athletism helped Pine Bluff get the crucial first down even though he had to work past the El Dorado players.
“He did a great job of getting the first down,” Bolding said. “He’s an athletic kid.”
Watson Chapel’s depth at quarterback tested
Watson Chapel’s defense took center stage at the end of the Wildcats’ 34-12 win over Magnolia on Friday as Jordan Stargell returned an interception for a score and Joshua Harris’ pick set up James Collier’s touchdown to seal the victory.
“Those were definitely some very significant defensive plays by two stellar players all years,” Watson Chapel coach George Shelton said.
The two interceptions preserved a win that Watson Chapel (6-2, 4-1 5A-South) had a 20-0 lead in before Magnolia made it 20-12 and was driving in the fourth quarter before Stargell’s pick.
The two defensive plays helped give a much-needed scoring boost to a Watson Chapel squad that lost starting quarterback San Antonio Cole in the game due to a right hand injury, which is his throwing hand.
“Had a setback with Cole getting injured and he had to leave the game and that broke momentum,” Shelton said.
Kris McCullough, who was the starting quarterback to begin the year before Cole took over in the third game of the season, and Kieron Savage took the snaps with Cole out on Friday, and they could have to again when Watson Chapel hosts Hot Springs Lakeside on Friday.
“It’s a significant injury to warrant sitting him out,” Shelton said. “He has provided us with a big spark. But Kris is a gamer and has been playing since last year, and Savage played in the White Hall game.
“We have to be ready to adjust, but our offensive is still what it is. Still believe in running off the tackle, three yards and a cloud of dust.”
Bulldogs get unexpected tough test
The White Hall football team was coming off an emotional-high with a key victory over rival and 5A-South Conference member Watson Chapel, and had to deal with the distraction of homecoming ceremonies this past week.
The Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1) found themselves behind 21-14 before battling back to beat Hot Springs 40-28 on Friday.
Senior Joseph Stewart provided a big boost for White Hall on homecoming as he intercepted three passes, including one for a 59-yard score for the 40-28 lead.
“It was the turning point of the ball game,” White Hall coach Mike Vaughn said. “Anytime you get a turnover like that when the other team is driving, it’s a momentum changer.”
Earlier in the week leading up to the game, Vaughn expressed concern that he did know how emotionally ready the team would be for Hot Springs.
But after the Trojans took a 21-14 lead in the third quarter, Vaughn said his team figured it out.
“Hot Springs was prepared for us and they brought it to us and we didn’t respond early,” he said. “We woke up and when you get behind like that, you get down. But we sucked it up, got it back on track and back into the game.”
This Friday, White Hall travels to take a Hope team that is 3-5 on the season.
Vaughn said he is hoping the team does not take Hope for granted either.
“You talk about it and bring that point across, but you never know,” he said. “We will know more after practice (today). This team’s intensity in practice shows, and they were struggling with their intensity all last week.”
Dollarway’s next opponent
Dollarway goes from facing the top-ranked team in 4A to a team that is clinging to its playoff hopes.
A week after Dollarway lost to Stuttgart 24-14, the Cardinals host Batesville Southside on Friday.
Batesville Southside is 4-3-1 overall and 2-3 in the 8-4A Conference, which puts the team in fifth place in the division. The Cardinals (7-1, 4-1) are still second in the conference and have a one game lead on Newport.