LITTLE ROCK – Warren had its opportunities in Friday’s 4A state championship but a torrential down pour and two weather delays worked against its momentum in a 14-12 loss to Booneville at War Memorial Stadium.
Warren was shutout in the first half as the Lumberjacks managed just 111 yards in the first two quarters. But once the storm let up, Warren was finally more productive as it scored a touchdown each in the third and fourth quarters to get within two points.
“It quit raining,” Warren head coach Bo Hembree said. “It was a monsoon in the first half and we couldn’t really get nothing going.
“Second half it quit raining and we were able to use the whole field.”
After going three-and-out on their first possession, the Lumberjacks made another defensive stand in the red zone, taking over on downs at their own 30-yard line with 4:45 left to play in the opening quarter.
“When it wasn’t raining, we were moving the ball well,” Hembree said. “And when it was raining, we weren’t.”
Trailing 14-0, Warren senior quarterback Drake Jones led the Lumberjacks down the field for a 10-play scoring drive and cutting the lead to 14-6 with 2:22 left in the third quarter.
Jones began the drive with an incomplete pass and followed up with a 6-yard rush. Kilay Cox broke out a 17-yard gain and rushed again for a 7-yard gain.
Following a incomplete pass on second down, Jones rushed for a 17-yard gain by the right guard to move the ball to Booneville’s 23-yard line.
A pair of runs by Cox and Jones set up a short yardage situation at the 14-yard line. Cox would score two plays later on a 5-yard rush into the end zone.
Kevin Cortes’ kick attempt failed and but Warren only trailed by eight points with a little more than a quarter remaining.
“Coach Hembree does a good job with his offensive scheming,” Booneville head coach Scott Hyatt said. “He has some good players that can run and catch the ball.
“Keeping the ball out of their hands is big.”
Jones, who was named Farm Bureau’s 4A Offensive Player of the Year on Tuesday, finished the game 13 of 31 for 174 yards and two interceptions. He completed passes to four different receivers including Von Eric Gonder, who led the team with six catches for 105 yards.
“We just tried to stay in the moment and see what we could do different,” Hembree said. “Defense did a great job tonight … we just needed to find some offense, unfortunately we just found it a little bit too late.”
The loss ended a 10-game winning streak for the Lumberjacks as they started the season 0-3 after falling to Fayetteville, Pulaski Academy, and Camden Fairview in the first three weeks.
Booneville moved to 15-0 for the first time in school history, winning its third state title. Cody Harrel, the game’s MVP, led Booneville with 146 rushing on 22 attempts and was 2 of 5 passing for 40 yards.
“It was fun (to get to throw the ball a little bit),” Harrel said. “It was nerve-racking but was also fun.”
Bryson May had 107 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns.
“We kind of fell behind a little bit with the rain delays, but we came through at the end,” Harrel said.
Cox’s second touchdown of the game cut the deficit to just two points with 4:47 left in the fourth quarter.
The drive began at Warren’s 28-yard line and following two incomplete passes, Cox rushed for a gain of 17 yards for a first down.
Cox then completed a 34-yard pass to Gonder to give the Lumberjacks a first down at Booneville’s 21-yard line. Cox scored from 21 yards out but a failed two-point conversion kept the score at 14-12.
“Fortunately, the breaks went our way,” Hyatt said.
Cox finished the game with 84 rushing yards on nine carries with two touchdowns. Jones also had 64 yards on 12 carries.
“Defense came up big (Friday) like they have all year,” Hyatt said. “I can’t say enough about those kids.
“They play with a lot of heart, coach (Ricky) May does a great job with them game planning and scheming. They just play hard.”