Showing SomeSwagger: Victory over Gravette is Bobcats' first conference win since 2016
By Scott Loftis
Headed into last Friday’s game against Gravette, Berryville coach Doug Shott said he wanted his team to get off to a good start and regain some of its swagger after a three-game losing streak.
Junior Tristan Updegraff returned the opening kickoff 57 yards to get things started and Berryville went on to trounce Gravette 42-7 on a rainy night at Bobcat Stadium.
“The kids played really well,” Berryville coach Doug Shott said of the victory, which snapped a 15-game conference losing streak for the Bobcats. “They came out and played hard.”
Sophomore quarterback J.D. Smith, making his first start, ran for two touchdowns and passed for another as Berryville (3-4, 1-3 4A-1) piled up 359 yards of total offense.
“He came out and did a good job,” Shott said. “He had been playing well in JV games and we felt like he could give us a change of pace.”
The Bobcats got the bulk of their offense from the running game as Updegraff rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown on nine carries and junior fullback Brett Parsons added 100 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Smith ran for 28 yards.
The kickoff return, which set the Bobcats up at Gravette’s 23-yard line on their opening possession, set the tone. Smith scored a few plays later on a 1-yard run.
“That fired our kids up and we were able to take it on in and score,” Shott said.
Smith added a 7-yard touchdown run later in the first half to put the Bobcats ahead 13-0. Gravette’s Tajae White returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown to pull the Lions within 13-7 but Berryville responded. Smith threw a pass along the sideline to senior Wyatt Poe, who was well-covered by a Gravette defender. Poe made a highlight-reel catch with his right hand, then raced into the end zone to complete the 57-yard touchdown. Kooper Logan then passed to senior Ethan Gregory for a two-point conversion that extended Berryville’s lead to 21-7.
“J.D. put it the only place he could put it,” Shott said of the touchdown pass. “And Wyatt made a great catch. We feel like he has the best hands on the team. And then he had the speed to take it on in for the touchdown. He may be the fastest guy we have, too. It’s close between him and Updegraff.”
The second half was all Berryville. Updegraff and Parsons each had touchdown runs and senior fullback Christian Lemus closed out the scoring for the Bobcats with a 3-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter. Junior kicker Armando Mojica converted all three extra points in the second half and four for the game.
Gravette (0-7, 0-4) saw its best chance to score from scrimmage turned away when Berryville senior Braden Logan intercepted a pass in the end zone.
With three victories in hand, Berryville has a chance to win four games or more for the first time since the 2006 Bobcats went 7-4 and reached the state playoffs.
“Our kids feel good about where we are,” said Shott, who is in his second season as the Bobcats’ head coach. “We just have to continue to do learn to do the things that put us in position to win.”
The Bobcats will face Pea Ridge (5-2, 4-0) in a conference road game on Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.