HAMPTON — Bolstered with a sprinkling of freshmen elevated to the varsity from their newly-crowned junior high conference championship team, the Rison Wildcats tuned up for the state playoffs by hammering the Hampton Bulldogs 42-0 in the regular season finale Thursday night at Andy Anders Field at Boyd Arnold Stadium.
Rison (7-3, 6-2 in 8-2A) will now enter the state playoffs as a third seed and will host Walnut Ridge next Friday in the first round. Hampton finished its season 2-6, all in 8-2A Conference play.
“The year’s not over,” Rison head coach Clay Totty told his squad after the game. The Wildcats have more state playoff appearances than any school among all classifications in Arkansas.
“We’re proud to get the shutout (Rison’s third of the year). There were specific areas we wanted to work on (Thursday),” Totty said. “We will watch the film and see how we did. We will also evaluate (the freshmen) and see where they can help us in the playoffs.”
Three bad snaps on punt attempts and three turnovers by Hampton, all in the first half, provided Rison a short field to operate from as the Wildcats built a 26-0 advantage at the break. Including the bad snaps on punt attempts, the Bulldogs had 10 plays that all went for minus 98 yards during the first two quarters.
Coming up with interceptions in the first half for Rison were Josh Cook and Zuntario Oliver, and Dillon Smith got his first of two fumble recoveries in the opening quarter.
The Wildcats’ scoring drives were 20, 43, 34 and 11 yards in the first half. Rison also had a couple of other offensive series that bogged down at the Hampton 31 and 28 in the first half.
Junior running back Jokenzie Broughton scored a touchdown from 20 yards out on the Wildcats’ first offensive play after Devonta Jones downed Brennon Nutt on a low snap from the center on a punt attempt. Oliver tacked on the first of his three PAT kicks to give Rison a 7-0 lead with just 1:07 gone in the game.
Broughton added TD runs of 25 and 9 yards in the second period when the Wildcats built up the lead to 20-0 with 3:02 left in the half.
About a minute later, Rison’s Kolton Hooks ran down Nutt after another bad snap from center on a punt attempt to give the Wildcats possession at the Hampton 11.
Three plays later, junior quarterback Nathan Wilson cracked over the goalline from four yards to give Rison a comfortable 26-0 cushion at halftime.
Then in the third period, the Wildcats turned to the big play for a pair of touchdowns that invoked the “mercy clock.”
With only 47 seconds gone in the second half, Wilson passed to wide receiver Garrett Dedman for a 56-yard touchdown play to extend Rison’s lead to 33-0. Wilson had just one other completion in the game to freshman Chris Leaks.
Rison’s final touchdown of the game came on a 58-yard scamper by Jarvis Broughton, that gave the Wildcats a 39-0 margin with about 7 minutes left in the third quarter to start the “mercy clock.”
On the ensuing kick, freshman Bryson Marks smacked Isaac Hale, causing a fumble that was covered by Smith at the Hampton 40. Rison drove inside the Hampton 10 and on the first snap of the fourth period, Oliver booted a 27-yard field goal to send the Wildcats’ lead to 42-0.
Clay Morris got Rison’s third interception in the closing seconds of the game to halt a Hampton drive deep in Wildcat territory.
Rison finished the game with 334 yards total offense.