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— Defense has been a cornerstone in Gravette’s 7-0 start this season.

That was never more apparent than in the second half against Farmington at Lion Stadium on Friday night.

Trailing 13-6 at halftime, Gravette (7-0, 4-0) forced a Farmington (4-2-1, 3-1) fumble on the Lions’ 23, intercepted two passes - including one that was returned for the clinching touchdown - and allowed only two plays of more than 10 yards on 36 snaps in a comeback 27-13 win.

Looking to build on a 13-6 lead, Farmington drove to the Gravette 23 on its second possession of the second half. But on a first-and-10 play, quarterback Chance Hyslip fumbled and Kahlief Steele fell on the loose ball for the Lions.

That turnover was the spark Gravette needed as the Lions took the ball and drove 77 yards to tie the game. Gravette scored on its next possession to take a 20-13 lead.

The next time Farmington had the ball, Gravette’s Nick Hendren made the clinching play of the game, readingHyslip perfectly and intercepting his pass and taking it for a 27-yard touchdown.

“That was a great play,” Gravette coach Bill Harrelson said. “Nick locked on the receiver; he kinda juggled it, but got hold of it. I was glad to see the (official’s) arms go up.”

* * *

Gravette’s offense was hampered by nine fumbles and several low center snaps in the shotgun formation.

After the game, a Gravette fan kidded quarterback Colt Moorman that he might play shortstop on the baseball team this spring because of the way he was able to dig and save several of the low snaps.

Farmington nose tackle J. J. Clay, a 5-foot-8 272-pound senior, and the push he was getting caused most of the low snaps.

“J. J. Clay had a great game,” Farmington coach Mike Adams said. “He was pressing that center all night. We forced a bunch (of fumbles). It’s frustrating when you have opportunities and don’t cash in on them.”

Gravette has fumbled a combined 14 times, losing three, the past two games.

Gravette battled for a hard-fought 191 total yards against Farmington. Seventy-one of those yards came on three consecutive plays in the second half. Ironically, those yards - all on runs - came on the first three plays of the Lions’ goahead drive in the fourth quarter.

Before those runs, Gravette had just one run of more than 10 yards, but none in the first half.

Farmington’s defense had 11 plays that recorded lost yardage.

Harrelson said the Cardinals’ defense was the best his team had seen so far this season.

* * *

Gravette will travel to the Field of Champions this Friday night to take on Class 4A No. 1 Shiloh Christian.

The winner of the game will have the inside track to the 1-4A Conference championship. Both teams are unbeaten in the league at 4-0.

Shiloh Christian beat Gentry 35-14 in its last game - the Saints’ 30th straight conference win in a row.

“We have to play our best game to be in the game,” Harrelson said. “We can’t have fumbles and missed tackles.”

Sports, Pages 13 on 10/21/2009

Print Headline: Second Half Defense Was The Difference In Farmington Game

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