Tigers enter playoffs on 4-game slide
GREEN FOREST -- The good news for the Green Forest Tigers is, they are in the Class 3A state playoffs. The bad news is, they will enter the playoffs on a four-game losing streak after Friday night's 44-26 loss to Elkins.
The really bad news is, the Tigers will open the playoffs on the road next week against Harding Academy, a perennial playoff team that won a state championship just two years ago.
Green Forest (3-7, 3-4 3A-1) had a chance to earn the conference's No. 4 seed and an easier first-round playoff challenge, but couldn't get past Elkins (4-6, 4-3).
Trailing 22-14 at halftime, the Tigers tried an onside kick to open the second half but Elkins recovered at midfield. The Elks scored five plays later on a 21-yard touchdown run by Travis England and added a two-point conversion by running back John Rota for a 30-14 lead.
Then it was Elkins' turn for an onside kick, and the Elks recovered at the Green Forest 34. That set up a 10-yard touchdown pass from England to Colter Metcalf four plays later, and running back Garrett Daniel went up the middle for a two-point conversion and a 38-14 Elkins lead.
Green Forest Coach Jay Martin said the successful onside kick by Elkins was a critical play.
"For some reason we decided not to go get the ball," Martin said. "That was a huge play in the ballgame. I mean even with them scoring, we recover the kick and go score we are still only eight down."
The Tigers got off to a great start, driving 65 yards on the opening possession of the game. Carl Roberts scored on a 6-yard run for a 7-0 Green Forest lead.
Elkins answered as Kelton Center capped a five-play drive with a 5-yard touchdown run and England added the two-point conversion on a quarterback keeper.
After Green Forest was forced to punt, the Elks were driving, but England's pass fell incomplete at the Green Forest 25-yard line with nine minutes remaining in the first half.
A 49-yard play-action pass from Cory Bryant to Baylor Deislinger gave the Tigers a 14-8 lead with six minutes to go in the second quarter.
Elkins returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards before Green Forest kicker Santiago Martinez made a touchdown-saving tackle at the 1-yard line. England scored on a quarterback keeper on the next play and then ran for the two-point conversion as well. That made it 16-14.
"For some reason we can't understand that it's the little things that is what makes us a great football team," Martin said.
Martin hoped to regain the lead before halftime. The Tigers advanced the ball to the Elkins 20-yard line a before a holding penalty put them in a first-and-20 situation from the Elks 30. After an incomplete pass on first down and a gain of 1 on second down, a pass into the end zone was intercepted with 1:35 remaining.
On the next play from scrimmage, England ran 80 yards for a touchdown to make it 22-14 at halftime.
After Elkins' two quick scores in the third quarter extended its lead to 38-14, Green Forest continued to fight. Roberts scored on a 7-yard touchdown run on the Tigers' next possession to make it 38-20. Green Forest attempted another onside kick, but Elkins recovered it once again, and after a 20-yard touchdown run by England to make it 44-20 with 3:57 remaining in the third quarter, the game was all but over.
Bryant scored the last Green Forest touchdown of the regular season, keeping the ball for an 8-yard touchdown run with 46 seconds left in the third quarter.
Green Forest will play Harding Academy (8-2) at 7 p.m. Friday in Searcy.