RISON — After Rison grabbed a 14-0 first quarter lead, the Camden Fairview junior varsity came to life and took the game down to the wire before the Wildcats prevailed over the Cardinals, 40-32, at Wildcat Field on Monday night.
Not only did Rison improve to 5-2 on the season, but head coach Clay Totty reached a personal milestone by collecting his 150th win since taking the helm of the Wildcats in 1998. Totty began his head coaching career at Rison.
However, facing the strongest competition and the most speed they had seen since Sept. 13 in a loss at Junction City, the Wildcats had to overcome three lost fumbles — two in the red zone — and make a defensive stand at the end to get the win. The game was arranged Friday when the Crossett junior varsity cancelled their trip to Rison for tonight. And Totty and his team got exactly what they wanted, a tough, physical game before taking on Bearden at home on Oct. 25.
“This was good for us, and we got hit,” Totty said following the physical game. “We put the ball on the ground three times and we had some penalties, especially at the wrong time. So, we know what we have to work on.”
Totty made mention of the fact that while the Class 5A Cardinals had some talented young players, he praised the effort of several of his own sophomores who saw action, some of whom made some big plays.
“Bryson Marks, Chris Leaks, Gage Roberts, Jordan Brown, Seth Crouse, Eric Leopard and Cortez Phillips, all sophomores, contributed in some way,” Totty said.
The Wildcats took the opening kick and marched 65 yards for a touchdown, capped by Jokenzie Broughton’s 1-yard scoring plunge. Zuntario Oliver added the first of his two PAT kicks to make it 7-0 at the 7:25 mark of the opening period.
With 3:56 left in the first quarter, Kolton Hooks scored a TD from 3 yards out to push Rison’s lead to 14-0. The 52-yard scoring march was highlighted by a 28-yard pass from quarterback Nathan Wilson to Leaks.
While Fairview couldn’t manage much of a rushing attack, Cardinal quarterback Logan Reed warmed up by passing his team back into the game.
A 7-yard scoring pass from Reed to Jordan Semple near the end of the first period and a 92-yard touchdown bomb from Reed to Patrick Thrower pulled Fairview within 14-12 at the 8:08 mark of the second quarter.
Fairview’s second TD followed a lost fumble by Rison at the Cardinals’ 8.
But Rison responded with a 17-play, 62-yard touchdown drive, climaxed by another 1-yard scoring dive by Broughton. The PAT failed, leaving the score 20-12 with only 41 seconds remaining in the half.
The ‘Cats had one more chance to score before the end of the half, but they could not capitalize on Kirk Macon’s fumble recovery at the Fairview 28. After reaching the 16, the ‘Cats went backward and Leaks’ 38-yard field goal attempt fell way short as time expired.
Rison extended its lead early in the third quarter when Broughton dashed 91 yards for a touchdown. Leaks booted the PAT to make it 27-12.
Sparked by a major penalty against the ‘Cats, the Cards zipped down the field and scored their third TD on a 35-yard pass from Reed to speedster DeAngelo Wright. Another two-point conversion try failed, leaving Rison on top, 27-18, with 9:02 to go in the third quarter.
The ‘Cats gained some breathing room when Marks raced 49 yards for a touchdown with 5:24 left in the third period that made it 33-18.
Once more, though, the Reed-Wright combination worked for a 60-yard TD pass that sliced Rison’s lead to 33-24 at the 4:09 mark of the third period. Clay Morris sacked Reed on the Cardinals’ two-point try.
Rison took advantage of Fairview’s only miscue of the game, when a high snap had to be downed by the Cardinal punter at the Fairview 17.
Broughton scored his fourth touchdown of the game on a 5-yard run up the middle and Leaks tacked on the PAT kick to make it 40-24 with 9:44 remaining in the game.
However, Fairview answered again on a 20-yard TD pass from Reed to Wright. Then Reed passed to Ty Mitchell for Fairview’s only two-point conversion of the game, trimming Rison’s advantage to 40-32 at the 8:54 mark of the final period.
Rison drove all the way to the Fairview 5 for first and goal, but Broughton fumbled into the end zone and the Cardinals covered with 3:20 left.
A 38-yard pass from Reed to Wright got Fairview to the Rison 15. But the Wildcats stiffened to force a fourth and 12 at the 17. After taking a timeout with 29 seconds to go, Reed passed to Wright for 9 yards and Rison took over.