Ball-hogging Bobcats ends Rattlers’ playoff run
The Murfreesboro Rattlers had the ball on offense for a total of 36.5 seconds in the first quarter of Friday’s 2A playoff quarterfinal match with the Walnut Ridge Bobcats.
The Rattlers, besieged by a strong Bobcat defense, struggled to recover the remainder of the game, resulting in a 50-26 loss to end their season. Friday’s game at Murfreesboro was the first time the Rattlers have gone three rounds deep into the playoffs since 1996 when they played and lost to Bauxite in the state 2A championship.
The Bobcats all but shut down Murfreesboro’s quick-firing offense and stymied senior quarterback Peter Saygnaphay’s dual attack of pass and run. Saygnaphay completed 10 of 24 passes for 167 yards but was intercepted four times. He rushed 13 times to add 59 yards to the Rattlers’ 133-yard total.
Walnut Ridge’s offense started Friday’s game by chewing up the game clock and rolling 65 yards in 12 plays. The pass-heavy drive was capped with 6:43 left in the opening quarter. The PAT attempt was disrupted by the Rattler defense for a 6-0 score.
After a big return from senior Von Derrick Robinson set the Rattlers up at the Bobcat 42, the Rattler defense was back on the field after the second play resulted in an interception. The pick gave the Bobcats the ball back at their own five-yard line.
The Bobcats’ offense managed to chew up the remainder of the first quarter with a 95-yard, 13-play drive. A one-yard run capped the drive to put WR up 12-0 with 35.7 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Rattlers’ next possession, starting at their own 22, spilled into the second quarter and was cut short when the Bobcat defense forced a punt.
The Bobcat offense got back on track from their own 40 with 10:50 left in the half. A run-heavy 10-play drive was capped from 12 yards out. A two-point conversion lifted WR to a 20-0 lead with 6:11 left in the second quarter.
Murfreesboro began their next possession at their own 35 and moved the ball into Bobcat territory for the first time in the game. But, on the seventh play of the drive, Saygnaphay was picked off again to give the Bobcats the ball back at their own 11 with 3:51 left in the half.
The Bobcat offense again capitalized on the miscue and reeled off a nine-play drive that was capped with a six-yard run with 47.8 left in the half. The two-point conversion lifted the score to 28-0.
The Rattlers’ first points of the game came with just 30 seconds left in the half when Joe Quiroz collected a 34-yard TD pass from Saygnaphay. The two-point try failed and the Bobcats carried a 28-6 lead into the lockers.
Murfreesboro’s offense appeared recharged when they took the field for the second half. They were able to move from their own 29 into Bobcat territory but the drive was again cut short by an interception in the end zone.
Walnut Ridge took over at the 20 with 10:32 left in the third quarter, but this time wasted no time in lighting up the scoreboard. After two short runs, QB Zach Crisler hit his receiver for a 74-yard TD strike. The two-point conversion set the score at 36-6 with 8:51 left in the quarter.
Tempers began to flare on the Rattlers’ next possession and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty helped facilitate a three-and-out possession.
The Bobcats started the next possession at their own 34 and 10 plays later hit pay dirt on a five-yard run. The two-point run moved the score to 44-6 and set the clock moving with the “mercy rule.”
Murfreesboro’s offense misfortune continued on the next possession when Saygnaphay was picked off again to give the Bobcats the ball at the Rattler 35 with 2:58 left in the third quarter.
The Bobcats ran their next drive into the fourth quarter and into the end zone. With 11:50 left in the game, Walnut Ridge pushed the score to 50-6.
The Rattler offense finally fired up on the the next drive, which was capped when senior Kyle Turbeville scored on a 17-yard run. The two-point try failed for a 50-12 score.
The home team’s offense continued to roll in the final minutes of the game and Saygnaphay scored from 22-yard run and then Turbeville, who finished the game with five carries for 70 yards, scored from 23-yards out.
Quiroz led the Rattler receivers with eight catches for 140 yards and one TD followed by Robinson with one catch for 30 yards.
The Bobcats rushed the ball 50 times for 297 yards and hit 16 of 24 passes for 261 yards.
Walnut Ridge will travel to Junction City this Friday to take on the Dragons in the 2A semifinals.