Homecoming heartbreak: Late touchdown lifts Lincoln over Berryville
By Scott Loftis
The Berryville Bobcats had plenty of chances to secure a victory over Lincoln and ensure a happy homecoming night last Friday.
Instead, the Wolves took advantage of turnovers and untimely penalties by Berryville to escape with a 39-34 victory at Bobcat Stadium.
“I thought we were going to pull it off,” Berryville coach Doug Shott said. “Two fumbles certainly didn’t help us and we had too many penalties.”
A 2-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback J.D. Smith and the extra-point kick by Armando Mojica gave Berryville (2-4, 0-3 4A-1) a 34-33 lead with 10:41 remaining.
The Bobcats drove inside the Lincoln 5-yard line on their next possession, helped by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Wolves. But two consecutive false-start penalties left Berryville facing third-and-goal from the 13. After Smith gained a yard on a quarterback keeper to set up fourth-and-goal, the Bobcats opted to go for the touchdown rather than attempt a 29-yard field goal. The plan went awry when a Lincoln defender intercepted a pass at the 3.
Needing to drive 97 yards to take the lead, Lincoln took just seven plays. After converting a fourth-and-7 with a pass completion to keep the drive alive, the Wolves handed the ball to senior running back Christian Sellers, who sprinted down the right sideline for a 44-yard touchdown run to put Lincoln ahead 39-34 with 3:36 remaining. A two-point conversion attempt failed.
After a 23-yard kickoff return by sophomore Tristen Lodwick, Berryville started its next possession at its own 43. A running play lost three yards on first down, however, and three consecutive incomplete passes resulted in a turnover on downs.
Lincoln likewise turned the ball over on its next possession, but left only 29 seconds on the clock. Smith ran for a first down, then spiked the ball to stop the clock. Smith then completed a pass to sophomore Kennon Helmlinger for a 16-yard gain to give Berryville a first down at the Lincoln 33 with two seconds remaining. The Bobcats’ final pass then fell incomplete as the Wolves clinched the victory.
Berryville jumped out to a 7-0 lead when junior Dominic Henry broke free for a 21-yard touchdown run with 7:39 remaining in the first quarter. After Lincoln tied the score on the first of two touchdown runs by senior quarterback Levi Wright, Berryville fullback Brett Parsons scored on a 6-yard run with 9:25 left in the second quarter, then added a 4-yard touchdown run at the 6:37 mark to put the Bobcats ahead 20-7.
“We felt like when we got ahead by two scores, they might be ready to quit,” Shott said.
Instead, Lincoln scored three touchdowns in the final 3:34 of the second quarter — helped by a Berryville fumble — and took a 27-20 halftime lead when Wright threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Daytin Davis as time expired in the first half.
Berryville answered midway through the third quarter when Smith kept the ball for a 1-yard touchdown run, but Sellers scored on a 10-yard run with 2:41 left in the quarter. Berryville blocked the extra-point attempt to hold Lincoln’s lead to 33-27 and set up the back-and-forth final quarter.
Parsons finished with 134 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries to lead a Berryville running game that churned out 314 yards at an average clip of 6.7 yards per attempt.
“He’s our bellcow,” Shott said. “He’s a kid that try to run through a brick wall if you asked him to. He only knows one speed. He’s just a super young man. As he goes, we go.”
Smith added 79 yards on 15 carries for Berryville, while Henry had 74 yards on 10 carries.
Sophomore Jaeden Tanksley ran for 27 yards on six carries, and had five unassisted tackles as a starting linebacker on defense.
Berryville will travel to Gravette on Friday night for a 7 p.m. kickoff.