The Rockhurst Hawklets football team accomplished something no high school team has done in five years; they beat the Bentonville Tigers, in Bentonville. The well-fought 17-16 victory left a Tiger student section, numbering more than 500, in shock.
After a scoreless first quarter caused by lockdown defense by both teams, each team managed to put points on the scoreboard during the second quarter. The Bentonville Tigers opened up the scoring with a field goal, after being held 10 yards away from a touchdown by the Hawklets.
Rockhurst’s score came with a 61-yard bomb from senior quarterback TJ Green to senior receiver Will Bazzle. In what would later have a big impact on the game, Rockhurst’s junior kicker Jackson Terry missed the extra point following the Hawklet touchdown, taking a 6-3 lead into halftime.
Barely three minutes into the second half, the Tigers came back with a huge 32 yard rushing touchdown to take a 10-6 lead. The Hawklets struggled to keep the offense flowing in the third quarter and the defense couldn’t stop big plays, like a 61-yard pass right after a Rockhurst punt. However, due to a bad snap and a missed field goal for Bentonville, the Tigers missed a few opportunities to pull away.
Terry redeemed his missed PAT, with a clutch 37-yard field goal that put Rockhurst within one point of Bentonville with 9 minutes left in the game.
With just 6 minutes left, senior linebacker Patrick Thomas, who totaled 11.5 tackles in the game, forced a fumble, which senior defensive back Devin Dunn recovered and returned for a 46-yard touchdown.
Due to Terry’s missed PAT earlier in the game, Rockhurst decided to go for a two-point conversion so that they would be up by a full seven points. The conversion was successful and put Rockhurst up 17-10.
With less than a minute left, Bentonville quarterback Kasey Ford connected with receiver Dax Hale in the back of the endzone to give the Tigers a chance to tie the game or take the lead.
In Arkansas, there is a somewhat obscure rule that there is no overtime in games played against out-of-state opponents. With this in consideration, Bentonville made the risky decision to go for a two-point conversion, rather than having the game end in a tie with a made PAT. With a mis-thrown attempt, the Hawklets came away with the victory.
“The atmosphere in that stadium was insane,” junior lineman Roman Sherman said, “Being a part of that win was the greatest thing I have ever been a part of. This win will help motivate us throughout the rest of the season.”
Satisfied with a victory over the number one ranked team in Arkansas, the Hawklets have proven what they are capable of, despite last weeks loss to Webb City. Rockhurst looks to continue playing as they did against Bentonville against Springdale Har-Ber, another highly-ranked Arkansas team.
Staff writer Eli Pittman contributed to this report.