The Pine Bluff Zebras and Watson Chapel Wildcats combined to leave a lot of points out on the field Friday at Wildcat Stadium.
The Zebras just happened to get more on the scoreboard in their 24-15 win.
Sloppy plays all over the field cost both teams. Each side had three turnovers and several penalties in the contest.
Pine Bluff led 17-3 at halftime, but its lead could have been much larger.
On a third-and-goal play, sophomore quarterback Ladarius Skelton threw an interception in the end zone to Watson Chapel defensive back William Townsel.
The Zebras also had a touchdown run by Skelton called back for holding. The play ended with 1 second remaining in the first half, which allowed senior kicker Austin McGehee to hit a 32-yard field goal as time expired.
Watson Chapel hurt itself with a failed two-point conversion and a blocked extra point, the latter of which kept them from making it a one-score game early in the fourth quarter.
“It was important, no doubt,” Pine Bluff head coach Bobby Bolding said. “Blocking that extra point was a big play.
“Stopping that two-point conversion was big, too.”
The blocked extra point came after Watson Chapel sophomore running back Trey Cole scored on a 2-yard carry to pull the Wildcats within nine at 24-15.
After the blocked extra point, Watson Chapel senior quarterback Kris McCullough was forced to take to the air to try and lead the Wildcats back. Watson Chapel had been having success on the ground with both Cole and Devonte Battles. The senior had a 5-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to make the score 17-9, but Cole was stopped short on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt.
McCullough and the Wildcats were driving with just over 2 minutes remaining in the game, but he was picked off by Pine Bluff sophomore defensive lineman John Tate.
“Those are the things that happen in a game that you can’t have happen if you want to win,” Wildcats’ head coach George Shelton said.
On the game’s opening drive, Skelton hit sophomore wide receiver David Beasley for a 43 yards to convert on a third-and-long play. Big third down conversions would be a theme for the Zebras’ offense.
“We gave up some big third downs,” Shelton said.
Pine Bluff sophomore wide receiver Kacy Higgins capped that drive with a 14-yard touchdown run to give the Zebras an early 7-0 lead.
Watson Chapel responded with a long drive, but was forced to settle for a 25-yard field goal by senior Corey Baxter.
But every time the Wildcats scored, the Zebras had an answer.
After Baxter’s field goal, Skelton ran in from 11 yards out, and after Battles’ touchdown Pine Bluff senior Trevor Hunt scored on a 2-yard touchdown run.
Skelton only finished with 20 yards on 13 carries, but went 12-for-17 for 128 yards through the air. McCullough threw for 114 yards but only completed 11 of 19 passes, most of which were caught by senior Kirel Young, who finished with nine receptions for 116 yards (he caught a 20-yard pass from junior backup quarterback Tyon Williams).
“I thought we played hard again,” Bolding said. “They’re got some shifty running backs that we had some trouble with and turnovers hurt us, too.
“But, overall our guys made fewer mistakes than they did last week, and that’s what we have to continue to do.”