MOUNTAINBURG — Gaining over 430 yards in the first half — all on the ground — the Rison Wildcats rolled to a commanding 46-0 halftime lead and settled for a 52-6 trouncing of the Mountainburg Dragons Friday night in the opening round of the Class 2A state playoffs.
Rison, now 8-3 on the season, advanced to next week’s second round to meet Magnet Cove.
The Wildcats’ win in northwest Arkansas ended a five-game losing streak on the road for Rison in the playoffs dating back to 2005.
The string of road losses for Rison in the playoffs included four setbacks in the northwest part of the state, one of them at Mountainburg in 2007, and was used by Wildcat head coach Clay Totty as a motivational tool for his team. Rison’s last victory in the northwest part of the state was in 1991 at Charleston.
“We talked about the drought we’ve had up here in this area of the state,” Totty said after the game. “I told them a win up here would be something they could be remembered for and would contribute to the school’s tradition. This was also a chance to redeem our loss here in 2007. You don’t ever know if you will get a chance to do that, but we did.”
Rison finished the game with over 535 yards total offense, all of it coming on the ground. The Wildcats never attempted a pass.
The Wildcats took the opening kick and marched 58 yards for their first touchdown and never looked back, as they quickly built a 20-0 advantage before the end of the opening period. Bryson Marks scored the Wildcats’ first touchdown on a 17-yard run and Zuntario Oliver booted the first of his four PATs to make it 7-0 with just 2:26 gone in the contest. Marks added another 17-yard scoring run on the second play of quarter number two.
Also joining the scoring parade for Rison in the first half were Jokenzie Broughton, who had touchdown runs of 1, 90 and 58 yards, and Kolton Hooks, who scampered 77 yards for a touchdown.
The Wildcats final touchdown of the first half came on a 32-yard run by Chris Leaks. With the “sportsmanship clock” running to start the second half, Oliver capped Rison’s scoring on a 27-yard touchdown dash midway through the third quarter.
Mountainburg avoided the shutout in the fourth quarter on a short touchdown pass from Quency Pixley to Robert Nolen.
Rison, which started four sophomores in the defensive secondary, received a pair of pass interceptions from Jaylon Mitchem. It was the second week in a row for Mitchem to have two pass thefts. Skylar Shipman also covered a fumble in the first half to set up one of the Wildcats’ touchdowns. The Dragons had only 46 yards of offense in the opening half.