GENTRY Coach Brian Little told his players to break the season into three parts and his Gentry Pioneers started that third phase with a bang.
Gentry forced five turnovers and made big plays on offense and defense to run away from Berryville for a 41-7 mercy-rule win on homecoming.
“We’ve talked to them about breaking (the season) into three phases. After getting Shiloh (Christian) past us last week, we said it’s a new season and we control our own destiny,” Little said. “Now that we’ve got this one behind us, we’ll celebrate tonight, look at it tomorrow and go to work to get ready for another solid opponent next week.”
After getting single wins in the non-conference schedule and the first half of the 1-4A Conference schedule, Friday’s win keeps the Pioneers (3-5, 2-3) in the hunt for one of the league’s five playoff spots.
The Pioneers are tied for fifth place with Week 10 opponent Huntsville (3-5, 2-3) and both are a game behind Prairie Grove (3-5, 3-2), which travels to Gentry this week.
The Pioneers started slow Friday on their muddy home field but the defense sparked the team with four straight turnovers in the second quarter.
Kyle Miller and Kolby Rankin picked off quarterback Eric Holman on consecutive passing attempts and Robert Henderson returned a fumble 40 yards - his second defensive score of the season - as Gentry put 20 points on the board in a three-and-a-half minute span.
The first play after Miller’s interception at the Gentry 20, senior quarterback Caleb Ramsey hit Henderson for an 80-yard score. Henderson caught the 20-yard pass, broke a tackle at midfield and outran the rest of the Bobcat defense for the game’s first score with 7:59 left in the half.
Rankin’s interception was in Bobcat territory off a tipped pass. Ramsey hit Justin Stewart for a 26-yard gain and converted a fourth-and-4 on the ground before Nick Weeks scored from 2 yards out.
On Berryville’s next play, running back Travis McBryde fumbled at the line of scrimmage and Henderson scooped up the loose ball and raced down the visitors’ sideline - with Justin Wilks blocking - for a 20-0 lead.
“I know we’re capable of playing well (on defense) and we needed that,” Little said. “It was a great shot in the arm for us.”
The defense, which also got a fumble recovery by Tyler Rosenthal and an interception by Nick Weeks in the first half, wasn’t done.
After a short punt, a long pass from Drew Fry to Holman moved the Bobcats (1-6-1, 0-5) down to the Gentry 4 in the final minute of the half. But Gentry stuffed two runs, Miller knocked down a pass attempt into the end zone and the defense stopped Holman just short of the goal line on fourth down as time expired.
Ramsey added two more scores in the second half and finished the night 6 of 17 for 197 yards passing.
He hit Stewart in stride down the home sideline for a 55-yard score and scored on a 1-yard sneak for a 34-0 lead.
After another stop, Gentry sophomore Tanner Coy - who finished with a game-high 113 yards rushing on six carries - scored on his first play, breaking through the middle and running for a 56-yard score to trigger the running clock.
Berryville scored with eight minutes left in the game as exchange student Bas Riesthuis - who finished with a team-high 64 rushing yards - scored from 4 yards out. He also kicked the extra point.
Sports, Pages 6 on 10/28/2009
Print Headline: Pioneers get needed win on homecoming