Turnovers, tackling are double whammy for Bobcats
By Scott Loftis
Turnovers can be impossible for a football team to overcome.
The Berryville Bobcats learned that the hard way in a 31-14 loss at Huntsville on Friday that evened the Bobcats’ record at 1-1 after an impressive season-opening victory over West Fork.
Berryville (1-1) ran for 267 yards and touchdowns, but fumbled six times.
“We just had trouble hanging onto the football,” Berryville coach Doug Shott said. “Our kids played hard in the first, third and fourth quarters. The second quarter, I felt like we had a little letdown.”
The Bobcats had trouble containing Huntsville senior running back Slayter Watkins, who scored three first-half touchdowns as the Eagles jumped out to a 24-7 lead.
Watkins’ had a 20-yard touchdown run on Huntsville’s first possession. Berryville answered with its own scoring drive, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run from junior quarterback J.D. Smith to tie the score at 7-7 with 1:15 left in the first quarter.
The second quarter was all Huntsville, however. The Eagles took advantage of a muffed punt by the Bobcats to convert a 32-yard field goal, then Watkins had touchdown runs of 23 and 5 yards to stake the Eagles to their big halftime lead.
Berryville got within striking distance in the third quarter when senior running back Tristan Updegraff broke free for a 59-yard run, then scored on a 4-yard run. The extra point pulled the Bobcats within 24-14 with 8:34 left in the third quarter.
Late in the third quarter, Berryville drove inside the Huntsville 30, but lost a fumble on third down.
On Huntsville’s first play from scrimmage after the turnover, Watkins broke free and sprinted 71 yards for his fourth touchdown of the night. The extra point made it 31-7 with 1:29 left in the third quarter.
“We do tackling drills every week,” Shott said. “Hats off to that kid. He did a great job, but we should be able to tackle him a lot better than we did.”
Updegraff ran for 117 yards on 14 carries for Berryville. Senior fullback Brett Parsons added 53 yards on nine carries and Smith had 52 yards on 14 rushes.
Smith completed four of 13 passes for 57 yards. Senior Austin Franklin had a 27-yard reception and senior Jarrett Stringer caught a 21-yard pass. Updegraff and sophomore Jaeden Tanksley added one reception each for Berryville.
Despite the loss, Shott remained upbeat about his team.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” he said. “The mistakes we made are things that are fixable.”
Berryville will play on the road against Yellville-Summit on Friday. Kickoff time is 7 p.m.