The Quitman Bulldogs took the opening kick-off at Arp and marched 62 yards in nine plays to score with 8:16 left in the opening quarter to take an early lead. Arp would score 46 unanswered points to win the District 10-3A DII opener 46-6 over Quitman.
Arp was 0-3 coming into the contest. “Arp’s 0-3 record was deceiving. They played some real quality pre-season games against people like West Rusk and Jefferson. Still, we believed we had a good chance of winning,” Head Coach Bryan Oakes said. “We are all, coaches and the kids, still numb after that. We have to get back to work and get ready for Grand Saline. Win the next one and we are right back in the playoff picture.”
On the opening drive, a halfback pass from Trey Berry to Riley Flanagan on a fourth and four situation shocked the Tigers. Flanagan was wide open over the middle and the play went for 41 yards. Two plays later, Berry rambled in for a score from three yards out.
Arp came right back with Caleb Wright gong 69 yards on the Tigers first play from scrimmage. A holding penalty brought the ball back to the Quitman 39 yard line. From there, it took Arp six plays to score on a toss from Tren Jones to Wright covering 24 yards to tie the game at 6-6 with 4:11 left in the quarter.
The Bulldogs took the kick-off and went 10 plays before failing to make a first down on a fourth and 11 when Medlin’s pass to Flanagan was incomplete. Arp took over on their own 18 yard line. Two plays later, Jones kept the ball on a quarterback run and raced 49 yards giving the Tigers a 12-6 lead with 11:12 left in the half.
Quitman was held on their next possession and stopped on another fourth down attempt for a first down and Arp got the ball on their own 47 yard line. A pass from Jones to Wright covered 48 yards to the Quitman six yard line. From there, Logan Shuttlesworth punched in and Arp led 20-6 with 7:13 left in the half. Shuttlesworth scored again with 3:32 to go in the half to put the Tigers up 26-6.
Not to be shut down, Quitman behind Berry at quarterback and Alex Wilson at running back got the ball deep in Arp territory. It was there, disaster struck the Bulldogs. Wright picked off a Quitman pass and returned it 100 yards with 27 seconds left in the half which gave the Tigers a 32-6 lead at intermission.
The Bulldogs came out fighting in the second half using the running of Wilson and Berry. The teams battled defensively until Arp got a score on a 21 yard run by Kameron Medlock to put the Tigers up 29-6 going into the final quarter. Arp got a final tally on a 34 yard run by Jacob Birdsong with just under seven minutes left in the game.
Berry had 15 carries for 75 tough yards while Wilson banged his way to 61 yards on 17 carries and Medlin added 28 yards on six carries. Medlin was 2 – 4 passing for eight yards and Berry was 7 – 11 for 121 yards. Dylan Coe had three catches for 14 yards, Holland four catches for 60 yards and Flanagan two grabs for 55 yards. The Bulldogs had over 300 yards in total offense.
“I was proud that our kids never gave up. We still need to learn how to win, how to face adversity and overcome it. I thought Trey (Berry) did a good job taking over for Josh (Medlin),” Oakes said. “We are still young and still learning what winning looks like in terms of dealing with adversity, preparation through practice and how we conduct ourselves.”
The Bulldogs will face a solid Grand Saline team who coming off a 48-20 loss to district co-favorite Troup. The Indians are 2-1 on the year with wins over Como-Pickton and Scurry-Rosser.
“I know it is homecoming week, but we must keep our minds on the job we have to do Friday night. After all the homecoming activities, we still have a football game to play,” Oakes said. “The district race is going to be wide open for someone to come on strong and be a playoff contender.”
In other district games, Alba-Golden shut down Harmony’s potent offense in the second half before eventually falling 35-7 after trailing 28-0 at intermission and Winona belted Frankston 56-19.
This week, Quitman is set for Homecoming 2018 against longtime rival Grand Saline. Alba-Golden is also celebrating homecoming against Winona while Frankston hosts Arp. The big game in District 10-3A DII is at Troup where co-favorites Harmony and Troup are set to battle for district supremacy.