In pure 2020 fashion, at least one night of high school football in Arkansas was put on hold as tropical storm conditions, not COVID-19, delayed a mostly stellar game between two defending state champions.
Class 5A’s Pulaski Academy Bruins hosted the Joe T. Robinson Senators from 4A and it did not fall short of living up to the hype.
The Bruins scored on their first drive converting a 4th & 7 from their own 18 when Nolan Bruffett found Cooper White with no one around him taking it the distance for a 6-0 lead.
After Robinson turned the ball over on downs, PA went with Charlie Fiser at quarterback. Fiser led PA all the way down to the Robinson one and hit running back Joe Himon open in the flat as he darted towards the endzone. Robinson’s Ivan Thomas caught up and stopped him on the one to force a turnover on downs.
With just over a minute left in the first quarter, Fiser connected with Jalyn Witcher on a screen and Witcher took it all the way for the score. After a successful 2-point conversion, PA gained a 14-0 lead.
In the closing seconds of the first, Robinson quarterback Buddy Gaston found Ivan Thomas for a big gain all the way to the Bruin 8-yard line. On the next play, Michael Reed scored on a pass from Gaston to make it 14-7.
Early in the second quarter, Robinson’s Daryl Searcy intercepted Bruffet’s pass and the Senators went for it on 4th down but could not convert.
Robinson scored 14 unanswered as Buddy Gaston hit Ivan Thomas down the middle with four minutes left in the first half to tie the game at 14.
PA responded when Bruffett found Witcher as he bobbled the pass and came down with it to run in for the touchdown making it 20-14. The Bruins did not convert on the extra point. Robinson was able to score before the half as Gaston passed to Smith for the score with :02 seconds remaining in the half to take the lead 21-20.
Robinson recovered a PA onside kick just inside their own 49 to begin the second half and kept up the momentum scoring in four plays as Gaston raced in for the score adding to the Senators lead 28-20.
Bruffett started the game as he and Kiser alternated every drive. Kiser got the start for the second half, PA put a crisp drive together and Witcher hauled in his third score of the game to tie it at 28.
As Bruffett checked in for the next PA series, he was flushed out of the pocket on the second play of the drive causing a sack fumble. Robinson recovered the ball on their own 35-yard line but they were not able to take advantage turning the ball over on downs.
With both offenses fighting through fatigue deep into the third, Jalyn Witcher scored his fourth touchdown of the night allowing PA to regain the lead 34-28.
Robinson was threatening at the start of the fourth quarter, but a high pass in the red zone from Gaston resulted in an interception by Harrison Lane giving the Bruins the ball at their own 12.
After an unsportsmanlike penalty resulted in a 4th & 20 for the Senators, Harrison Lane got his second interception on back-to-back drives giving the Bruins possession with 8:30 left.
Moments later, Joe Himon scored from inside the five to extend the Bruin lead 42-28. PA then recovered the onside kick and began a new drive from the Robinson 49.
Witcher once again reached the endzone for a fifth time adding onto his incredible night with 5:03 remaining giving the Bruins a commanding 48-28 lead.
Robinson fought back as Ivan Thomas pulled in his second score with 2:40 remaining, but it was too late.
Published by Kyle Sutherland, @sutherland54WPS on Twitter