The Prescott Curley Wolves kept fighting to the end, but its two turnovers proved fatal in a 34-29 loss in a third-round playoff game at the Rison Wildcats Friday night.
On the other hand, the Wildcats (10-0) lost no turnovers and only punted once. Of its seven drives, all but one ended in touchdowns as the Wolves (11-1) frequently gave up big yards on third and fourth down and were the victim of a bad spot in which the referees seemed to give the home Wildcats four additional yards after a run by their running back Kelven Hadley on third down seemed to have been stopped for no gain in the second quarter. The Wildcats scored a touchdown on that drive.
The Wolves’ last turnover, an interception thrown on a fourth and 16 play with 14 seconds left in the last quarter and the team down by five points, ended their season. The Wildcats kneeled the ball down and lived to play again this Friday December 2 at home against the Charleston Tigers.
The game began with Rison receiving a kick from Prescott’s John Rabadan and starting a drive from their own 30. With heavy doses of the Wildcats’ duo of backs, Hadley and Bradyn Dupuy, the drive saw Hadley converting on a third and four at his team’s 45. Later, Dupuy, facing a fourth and four at the Prescott 32 took a pass on a wheel route from Rison quarterback Blaine Dixon into the endzone. The point after was no good, but Rison had scored first and it was 6-0 with 4:01 left in the first quarter.
Prescott received a pooch kick from Dixon which was caught by Jaylen Johnson on the Prescott 34. In under three minutes, Prescott used three passes and five running plays to score a touchdown. The extra point was good, allowing the Wolves to go up 7-6 with 1:01 left in the first.
The second offensive drive for Rison began at their own 29 with a nonproductive Dupuy run and the end of the first quarter. In two more downs, Rison punted to the Wolves, who caught it at their own 20.
Prescott’s second drive began with a Carston Poole pass to Dwayne White for 22 yards. It was followed by a Travion Dickens run to the 22-yard-line of Rison. Two more Dickens runs, and he was in the end zone for a ten-yard score. The extra point was blocked, putting the score at 13-6 Prescott.
The third offensive possession for Rison yielded a touchdown and worked the clock from 9:33 left in the half to 3:04 left. The drive was a combination of short runs from quarterback Dixon and running back Dupuy and three long ones from Hadley, with Hadley running the ball in on a second and seven from the 20. Rison tried a conversion with a Hadley run. It was good. Now Rison had the lead, 14-13.
The Wolves’ Jerry Glass caught the Rison kickoff at the Wolves’ 39. After Dickens got the team a first down on the 46 of Rison, Poole threw to Dwayne White, who ran to the Rison 25. On the next play, Dickens got loose on the right for a 20-yard gain. White, tied-up with Rison defender Za’kyler Walker, was called for a hold against Rison despite the footage showing White accomplishing a pancake block. The penalty pushed Prescott back from the five yard line to the 25.
With 1:01 left in the half, Dickens ran for 21 yards, making up for the penalty plus one yard. The next play saw Dickens run to the Rison two yard line. But a false start on the second and goal backed Prescott up to the seven. On the next second and goal play came perhaps the game’s most controversial call by the officials.
Poole threw a quick slant to White, who was wide open in the end zone for an apparent touchdown, but officials did not count the play, maintaining that Rison had called a time out prior to the snap. Footage of the play only shows Walker of Rison signaling time out as the ball is being thrown, but he is not shown in the footage until well after the snap. It is possible he signaled for time out before the snap but was out of view.
With the apparent touchdown waved off, the Wolves tried another passing play with 16 seconds left in the half but the pass was intercepted by Rison linebacker Ayden Laws. Back on offensive for its fourth possession, Rison handed the ball off to Walker for a short run and let the second quarter expire.
The Wolves received to begin the second half, starting from the Rison 42 after the Wildcats were penalized for tackling Jerry Glass who had called fair catch at the Prescott 42.
On a second and ten play, penalties on both the Wolves and the Wildcats were called, which, when the referees finished their math, resulted in a Wolves second and five from the Rison 36. The drive stalled out from there as Dickens was flushed out of bounds in the backfield for a loss of six. The Wolves then suffered another penalty that drove them back to the 47, finally resulting in the decision to punt on fourth and 18.
Rison, starting from its own 20 in its first possession of the second half, seemed headed for a three-and-out when what looked like a failed attempt to get the first down from a third and four play was bailed out by the officials spotting the ball on the 29 and calling it a first down. Although footage showed no overt responses to the play by Prescott players, the officials then called an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Wolves, awarding Rison an additional fifteen yards.
From Rison’s own 45, Hadley and Dupuy put together several runs. By the time Dixon had thrown a 25-yard touchdown pass on a blown coverage from Prescott to Walker, and a conversion throw to Hadley was caught for two, the score was 20-13 Rison, and the third quarter clock had run down to 3:41.
Prescott’s next possession began where Glass had caught the pooch kick, the Prescott 42. In three plays, the Wolves were in the end zone thanks to a Jalen Johnson catch on a short pass for a long run, then a Travion Dickens run from the Rison 41. The conversion attempt was good. With 2:43 left in the third quarter, Prescott led 21-20.
Rison took over at the 38 after a Treyvion Wainwright return of Rabadan’s kickoff. On the first play of the drive, the Rison runner Hadley appeared to gain a yard only to be driven back about ten yards by Prescott’s Tidorian Thompson. The officials gave Rison two yards on forward progress, puzzling both SWARK.Today broadcasters Jim Honea and Brandon Honea.
On the second play of the drive, which was a handoff to Dupuy that did not appear to get over a yard, Prescott was called for a facemask penalty that occurred out of the view of SWARK.Today’s cameras, tacking fifteen yards onto Rison’s field position, moving the Wildcats to the Prescott 44.
On the next play, Dixon bobbled the snap and Rison only got one yard, but it appeared the officials had missed calling a false start on this play. The next play was a Hadley run for ten yards to put Rison at the Prescott 34. The last play of the quarter was a Dupuy run for eight yards.
To start the fourth quarter, Rison’s Hadley crept forward two yards to make it second and two at the 26 of Prescott. Dupuy took the ball next and rumbled 22 yards to the end zone. The conversion on a run was good, making the score 28-21 Rison with 11:28 left in the fourth.
Prescott’s next drive was a successful one, resulting in eight points. But those points could have been scored more quickly had a kickoff return for touchdown by Gulley not been wiped away after a block in the back as Gulley had already run by, a rare miscue for Trevion Dickens. Still, the Wolves benefitted from starting this drive at the Rison 42 and, helped by two long completions from Poole to White, scored a running touchdown courtesy of Dickens and a successful two-point conversion to make it 29-28 Prescott’s lead with 8:33 left.
Rison’s next drive started from their 27 and saw the Wildcats churn up more yards on runs by Hadley, Dupuy and Dixon. The longest run came after a pitchout from Dixon to Walker that went 31 yards to the Prescott one. Hadley punched it in for the touchdown. The conversion attempt, penalized on a delay of game to the seven-yard line, was an incomplete pass. Rison had gotten the clock down to 2:10 left and was ahead now 34-29.
The last drive of Prescott’s season began with a kickoff going out of bounds, placing the ball for Prescott at their own 35. From that position, Poole passed to Johnson for nine yards, Dickens ran for four, picking up the first down. Poole hit White for 13 yards on a slant and Dickens ran for three. Now at the 32 of Rison, Poole tossed another pass to White for 12 but the ball was spotted as the 20. Here, Poole’s throw to Johnson was dropped, which stopped the clock at 35 seconds to go.
Before the second and ten play could be snapped, Rison called a timeout. On the next play, this paid off with a Rison sack of Carston Poole as his protection collapsed.
On third and sixteen, Poole’s throw to Gulley in the end zone was just a tick late and ended up dropped.
The fourth and sixteen pass attempt resulted in the interception that effectively ended the game.
Despite the way it ended, this season will be long remembered in Prescott because of the Curly Wolves’ seemingly unstoppable offensive attack and ability to shut down opponents’ running attacks. On Friday night, however, Rison got the benefit of two key turnovers by the Wolves and a couple questionable decisions by the game’s officials that extended a drive by Rison and helped slow the Wolves’ attack.