RISON — Early in the week, Rison head coach Clay Totty said that the Walnut Ridge offense concerned him. Friday night at Wildcat Field, it didn’t take long for that concern to become a total nightmare as the Bobcats put the foot on the gas and never let off in as they rolled to a 62-40 win over Rison in the opening round of the Class 2A state playoffs.
The loss ended Rison’s season at 7-4, while Walnut Ridge moves on with an 8-2 record.
After the game the only words Totty could find were, “What can you say?”
The 62 points scored on the Wildcats are the most ever in the post World War II era of Rison football. To top that, the Bobcats ran and passed for 688 yards of total offense — 396 on the ground and 272 through the air — for the most yardage ever against a Rison team. Rison absolutely had no answer for the Walnut Ridge offense. With Rison gaining 375 yards, the two teams combined for 1,063 yards of offense.
With senior quarterback Zach Crisler directing the Bobcat attack, Walnut Ridge jumped out to a 24-0 lead less than 8 minutes into first quarter and never looked back. Crisler completed 10 out of 14 passes, including an 87-yard touchdown pass to Cole Hicks in the first period and a 26-yard TD strike to Hunter Flippo in the third quarter. Crisler also ran for 77 yards on 13 carries and had touchdown runs of 19 and 2 yards.
Eric Wilcoxson led the Walnut Ridge ground attack, rushing for 179 yards on 11 carries, including a 33-yard touchdown scamper. Fullback Tyler Clement followed with 142 yards on 15 carries and had touchdowns of 10, 2 and 1 yards.
To add insult to the assault, the Bobcats converted on seven out of eight two-point conversion attempts. After each score, Walnut Ridge attempted an onside kick, even after building a 62-28 advantage with 10:04 left in the game. The Bobcats were successful in covering a pair of the onside kicks.
After Walnut Ridge grabbed the 24-0 lead with 4:48 left in the first period, Rison got a 2-yard touchdown keeper from quarterback Nathan Wilson on the final play of the opening quarter to make it 24-6. Wilson finished with 54 yards on 16 carries.
On their next possession, the Bobcats marched to the Rison 27 before turning the ball over on downs.
Then the Wildcats cranked out a 73-yard scoring march, capped by Jokenzie Broughton’s 2-yard TD plunge. Jarvis Broughton added a two-point conversion run to close the gap to 24-14 with 3:36 left in the half. But that was as close as Rison would get the rest of the way.
The Bobcats moved quickly downfield for a score to make it 32-14 with 1:13 left in the half. Walnut Ridge had a pass interference penalty that wiped out an interception return for a touchdown. Also, after stopping Rison on downs at midfield with 6 seconds to go in the half, Wilcoxson almost made it to the end zone on a 49-yard run when the Wildcats were in a prevent defense.
Once Walnut Ridge scored early in the third period to go up 40-14, the Bobcats were content to swap touchdowns the rest of the way.
The Wildcats got an 8-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Garrett Dedman and a 4-yard TD run by Jokenzie Broughton in the third period to trim the Bobcats’ advantage to 46-28. Jokenzie Broughton led Rison in rushing with 98 yards on 13 carries.
In the fourth period, Rison got a pair of touchdown runs from Devonta Jones, the first from 6 yards out, and then an 89-yard scoring dash on the final play of the game.