LITTLE ROCK — Booneville held off a late charge and survived two weather delays to defeat Warren 14-12 Friday night at War Memorial Stadium for its third state championship.
Going into Friday’s game, Booneville head coach Scott Hyatt had a pretty good idea that the state championship would be as wet and messy as last week’s semifinal game.
But no one could have predicted the two weather delays that lasted a combined two hours.
It was the longest weather delay for a state championship since 1999.
Much like last week’s semifinal against Dollarway, Booneville (15-0) was able to power through the horrendous weather thanks to its power-run game.
Led by senior quarterback and game MVP Cody Harrel — who had 146 yards on 22 carries — Booneville rushed for 377 yards on 70 carries.
“They were a good ball club as you can tell,” Harrel said. “We had to hit them hard and hit them often.
“We kinda fell a little bit behind with the rain delays but we were able to come through with the win.”
Booneville took its first lead of the game when Bryson May scored on a 3-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
“The biggest thing was keeping the ball away from them,” Hyatt said. “You want to finish drives, and if we could have finished some drives, that would have been big.
“…Those guys have a heck of a football team. They stuffed us about four times in the red zone.”
After failing to score on their first possession, the Bearcats forced a Lumberjacks turnover by way of a Drake Jones fumble and later capitalized on the touchdown run by May.
On their first possession, the Bearcats made it to the 8-yard line with about 9 minutes left in the first quarter. However, they would turn the ball over on downs as Warren’s defense made a key stand.
Booneville finished the game 2 of 6 in the red zone.
“The defense was playing their guts out,” Warren head coach Bo Hembree said. “They did an unbelievable job.
“We just needed to find some offense. We just found it a little bit too late.”
May’s second touchdown of the game gave Booneville a 14-0 lead with 7:44 left in the first half. It capped a 10-play drive for the Bearcats and chewed up 4:45 off the clock.
“When you play somebody like Warren and a guy like coach Hembree who does a good job with his offense and stuff,” Hyatt said, “… keeping the ball out of their hands is big.
“If we can keep it out of their hands for 5 minutes, that is good as our defense out there stopping them.”
Keeping the ball out of their opponents’ hands has been a key goal for the Bearcats during the playoffs, and in Friday’s championship game, it was no different. Booneville had the ball for 34:58 while Warren (10-4) had it for just 13:02.
Warren had an opportunity to take the lead with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter. But a sack by Justin Shackleford and an interception by Matt Berry as time expired prevented the Lumberjacks from scoring.
“After watching Warren against Valley View and knowing how quick they move the ball down the field,” Hyatt said, “all I kept thinking: We need a pick, We need a pick, We need a pick.”
Waren got on the board in the third quarter thanks to a 5-yard touchdown run by Kilay Cox with 2:22 left in the quarter. The Lumberjacks missed the extra point and still trailed 14-6.