There was more yellow flying than a maple forest in October in the Hawks' road game to Huntsville last week, but a solid running game by Seth Foster and a productive night for signal caller Gavin Dixon paved the way for a 35-6 win.
Foster, a junior, rushed 26 times for four touchdowns and 155 yards with Dixon connecting on 18 of 28 for 126 yards and a score.
Referees' yellow flags were thrown on more than 20 occasions, with some plays seemingly attracting the officials entire inventory. The Hawks overcame the setbacks, piling up more than 400 yards total offense to offset a slow starting first quarter offense.
The game started on a low note with the Eagles running nine plays for 62 yards to score the game's first touchdown. The Hawk defense stuffed the 2-point conversion as Huntsville broke out on top 6-0 with 7:39 left in the first.
Runs by Foster and Dixon got the Hawks rolling, but a fumble on the Huntsville 31 quashed the threat.
Huntsville then used a big 15-yard penalty to move to the midfield stripe, then picked up two more first downs to set up on the Hawks 13. On fourth and 8, Huntsville held seven yards behind the line of scrimmage for a whopping 17-yard loss. Facing fourth and 25, a desperation fourth down pass was incomplete. The quarter ended with the Hawks being outgained 116-61.
The new quarter was golden for Pea Ridge as they piled up 168 yards to just 21 for the Eagles, scoring twice to assume control of the game. Foster rushed four times for 31 yards to get the Hawks past midfield at the end of the first quarter, A short run by Foster drove the ball to the Eagle 42 where it appeared the Hawks scored on a pass from Dixon to Caden Thompson. A penalty waved off the score but forward progress was allowed for a 7-yard gain. Dixon ran for 4 and a first down, then flipped a 13 yarder to senior Evan Anderson, No. 4, to bring the ball to the Eagle 18. Another 7 yarder from Dixon to Thompson took the ball to the Huntsville 11. Foster very nearly scored on a 10-yard jaunt towards the end zone, before being stopped on the 1. Foster popped through up the middle for the score and a lead when Damien Trejos kicked the PAT through for a 7-6 advantage.
The Eagles were 3 and out on their next possession, with the Hawks setting up on their own 27. After a short gain by Foster, Dixon connected with Anderson for 10 yards, then 4 more on the next play, a pass from Dixon. The next play was to Anderson again with lanky senior catching one for 17 yards to the Eagle 33. Dixon found sophomore Brayden Wright, No. 21, open for 7 yards, then he tossed one to sophomore Waylon Fletcher, No. 8, for 10 more and a first down on the Eagle 16.
Foster appeared to have scored on the next play, but once again, flags wiped out the play. Dixon responded with a 4-yard pass to Foster, and a 7-yarder to Anderson for first down on the Eagle 3. Two runs by Foster was all it took for the Hawks to score again. Trejo was again true and the Hawks led 14-6 with 3 minutes in the half.
Pea Ridge held the hosts to a single first down and got the ball back for the last minute. A 19-yard run by Dixon got the Hawks moving along with a 9-yard pass to senior Kayden Rains, No. 3, but the half ended before the Hawks could threaten.
A poor Eagle kickoff helped the Hawks start on the 50-yard line in the third quarter. The first two plays went nowhere, but the third time was a charm as Dixon coupled with Wright to gain 21 yards to the Huntsville 30. Two plays Foster got loose for 6 yards, then a Dixon to Rains pass netted 15 yards to the Eagle 9. It took Foster two plays to cover the distance, crossing the goal line with 9:00 left in the third. Trejo split the uprights for a 21-6 lead.
It seemed that the Eagles were going to try and get back into it with a big 49-yard pass play to the Hawk 4. However, the receiver fumbled the football with the alert Hawks pouncing on it to stop the threat. It was about this time that the game went into weird mode.
The jubilant Hawks were flagged over celebrating the Huntsville turnover, resulting in the ball getting moved back to the Pea Ridge 4-yard line. Though Foster got the Hawks off their goal line with a 11-yard dash, the next three plays went nowhere and the Hawks had to kick away, giving the ball back to Huntsville on their 40.
With no time running off the clock, agitated referees began chucking flags into the air, assessing the Hawks for a number of penalties, involving sideline violations of some kind. By the time the flags were thrown and picked up and thrown again, the ball was moved all the way down to the Hawk 10.
This set the Hawks up for another defensive gem, as the Eagles' first two rushes netted them 8 yards to the 2-yard line. The third down attempt was nearly stopped cold as the Eagles could only get most of a single yard. The fourth down play hit a brick wall and the Eagles lost the ball on downs.
The Hawks then started a drive that at least tied a school record, as they drove 99 yards to score on 10 plays to open the game up. Foster ran for seven straight carries, netting 3, 9, 7, 6, 5, 1 and 2 yards to the Pea Ridge 37 as the third quarter clock expired.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Dixon threw a pass to Fletcher that gained 26 yards to the Huntsville 37. Dixon went back to Fletcher on the next play for 13 more yards to the 24. On the next play, Foster went right, reversed course, went left, avoiding tackles until he hit the end zone with 10:46 left in the game. Trejo then hit his seventh straight PAT to put the game away for the Hawks as Pea Ridge led 28-6.
Huntsville tried to respond, moving the ball to near midfield but junior Mason Wolfenden, No. 2, snared a second down Eagle pass to get the ball back to Pea Ridge on the Hawk 36.
The Hawks tried to move the ball up field but three plays netted nothing and the Hawks had to punt. Fortunately, for Pea Ridge, the Eagles fumbled and the Hawks had the ball back on the Eagle 36. Dixon had a pass to Rains net 13 yards, but flags were thrown four times against Pea Ridge and the drive was stymied, forcing another punt.
The Hawks gave up a couple of first downs, but the hosts eventually ran out of downs on the Hawk 43, where Pea Ridge regained possession. Foster ran twice for 6 yards to the Hawk 49 where Dixon tossed a long bomb to a streaking Anderson who gathered it in for a gainer of 46 yards to the Eagle 5. After a 6-yard setback, Dixon found Rains in the end zone, tossing him a strike for the game's final score. Trejos' kick at the 1:22 mark put an exclamation mark on the Hawks 35-6 road win.
The Hawks' final non-conference game will come this Friday at Gentry.
Like Pea Ridge, the Pioneers are 2-0. The Hawks have a current six game winning streak against the Pioneers dating from 2014 to the Hawks last year in the 4A-1 in 2019. Pea Ridge won that last game in '19 by a 43-7 count. Pea Ridge is 11-4 against Gentry since the year 2000.
This year's game has Pea Ridge as a 17-point underdog.