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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Johnson guides Bulldogs past Cedar Ridge

  • Quitman overcame a slew of penalties behind junior quarterback Walker Johnson, who stayed poised and kept the offense moving by completing 14 of 23 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns while also running for a score as the Bulldogs rallied for a 32-27 victory at Cedar Ridge on Friday night.
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  • Quitman overcame a slew of penalties behind junior quarterback Walker Johnson, who stayed poised and kept the offense moving by completing 14 of 23 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns while also running for a score as the Bulldogs rallied for a 32-27 victory at Cedar Ridge on Friday night. Senior running back Jacoby Brown clinched Quitman's first win of the season with a 17-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. “We had great field position and we opened up some big holes a couple times for Jacoby and he took it in,” said Quitman Coach Fritz Heidenreich. “The big key for us was we didn't have any turnovers and our defense stepped up and made some key stops on fourth down when they had to. They gave us an opportunity to move the football. Our offense didn't do anything great really but we did what we had to do. Our effort was better,” stressed Heidenreich. “I felt like our kids were really hungry for a win and that was what I was most pleased by.” The Timberwolves (1-2) took a 27-26 lead with 5:04 left in the fourth quarter. After Cedar Ridge botched the onside kick attempt, Quitman took advantage by driving 40 yards in five plays for the winning touchdown. On second and 7, Brown dashed through a hole up the middle and broke the plane of the goal-line before the ball was jarred loose and trickled to the back of the end zone. After the officials met, Brown's 17-yard run was ruled a touchdown, giving Quitman a 32-27 lead. Aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Cedar Ridge moved deep into Bulldog territory before running out of time at the 13-yard line. Quitman struck first, covering 47 yards in five plays for a score. Junior receiver Royce Katzer ignited the drive with a 17-yard reception and senior Lake Davis capped the drive by reeling in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Johnson, who also added the PAT for a 7-0 lead with 10:41 left in the first quarter. Cedar Ridge countered with a 14-play, 74-yard scoring drive followed by an 8-play, 76-yard drive for another touchdown plus two-point conversion as the Timberwolves took a 14-6 lead with 8:58 left in the second quarter. After recovering an onside kick, Quitman fired back with an 8-play, 47-yard touchdown drive set up by Johnson's 25-yard pass to Katzer. On first and goal, Johnson scored off a quarterback draw. Johnson also booted the PAT, tying the game at 14-all. Quitman forced a turnover on downs at its 38-yard line, where they began a 7-play drive to regain the lead. Johnson hit sophomore running back Chris Milam out of the backfield for 20 yards into Cedar Ridge territory at the 30-yard line. Sophomore receiver Treavor Williams caught a pass for five yards, Milam added a 6-yard jaunt and senior H-back Hadley Martin ran for five more yards as the Bulldogs reached the Cedar Ridge 14 with time running out in the first half. Johnson then dropped back and found Williams in the back of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown with 13.8 seconds left until halftime. Johnson's extra-point sailed wide left, leaving Quitman with a 20-14 lead at intermission. Cedar Ridge scored a touchdown on its opening drive of the second half to take a 21-20 lead, but the Bulldogs countered despite having a holding call negate a touchdown run. Four plays after the critical penalty, Johnson fired a pass over the middle, where senior receiver Michael McRae came down with a leaping grab for a 33-yard touchdown with 2:41 left in the third quarter. The two-point conversion failed, leaving Quitman's lead at 26-21 with 2:41 remaining in the third quarter. Cedar Ridge marched down to the Quitman 20-yard line before Martin and Brown converged for a big stop as the Bulldogs regained possession. However, consecutive holding calls left Cedar Ridge with prime field position and the Timberwolves took advantage, driving 59 yards in 12 plays for the go-ahead touchdown with 5:04 left in the fourth quarter. In the seesaw battle, Quitman got the last laugh when Brown crossed the goal-line from 17 yards out and the Bulldogs held tight on defense to pull out the hard fought victory. The Bulldogs used a balanced attack all night, finishing with 159 yards through the air and 131 on the ground while making up for eight penalties that cost them over 95 yards. Johnson was on target most of the night, while also rushing eight times for 16 yards. “Walker threw some great passes and our receivers caught the ball,” said Heidenreich. “Our plan was to come out throwing the ball and that's what we did on our first drive and we scored. He made some key plays for us throughout the game and actually rushed the ball a few times and made some big plays.” Williams led the Bulldogs in receiving with six receptions for 62 yards and one touchdown, while Katzer added four catches for 49 yards. Brown led Quitman's ground attack with seven carries for 57 yards and one touchdown, while sophomore running back Kyle Thompson and Milam each contributed 20 rushing yards. Brown paced the Bulldogs' defense with 20 tackles, including two for a loss, and sophomore Tyler Grantham recovered a fumble for the Quitman (1-2), which opens 2-5A Conference play Friday with a home game against Bigelow. The Panthers (0-3) are searching for their first win after opening the season with losses to Perryville (28-12), Atkins (51-20) and Danville (28-7). (Editor's note: Stats and information courtesy of Quitman Football Foundation's Dan Lichoff)
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