ARKADELPHIA, Ark. — Nashville went into the belly of the Class 4A beast and came away with one of the program's biggest regular-season football victories.
Senior Jhonny Pioquinto kicked a 30-yard field goal with 21 seconds to play and the Scrappers held on to defeat the two-time defending Class 4A state champion Arkadelphia Badgers, 22-21, Friday night at Badger Stadium.
The field goal didn't come without controversy, however.
Arkadelphia players and Coach J.R. Eldridge thought they had heard a whistle from one of the officials during the attempt and they stopped as Pioquinto knocked his kick through the uprights. Eldridge went out to midfield to argue with officials and received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that resulted in Nashville's ensuing kickoff being at the Arkadelphia 45.
The Badgers couldn't muster anything offensively, as they had a false start penalty on the first play of their final drive, then senior quarterback Cannon Turner threw four consecutive incompletions to end the game.
"I thought it was from an official," Eldridge said of the whistle he thought he heard. "The whistle came after the ball had been snapped, so my guys stopped. I'll probably see it on film.
"But those things happen. Bottom line, we didn't do enough earlier in the game. Nashville's got a good football team."
Nashville (4-0, 1-0 7-4A Conference) snapped a 13-game winning streak by Arkadelphia (3-1, 0-1). The Badgers' last loss was on Sept. 28, 2018, against Joe T. Robinson. They went on to win 10 games in a row and their second consecutive Class 4A state championship.
Scrappers Coach Mike Volarvich was proud of how his team responded after trailing 21-13 with 6:27 left in the third quarter.
"We talked about it for the last two weeks. We felt like if we could be in the game in the second half, I thought we could pull it out," Volarvich said. "I know Arkadelphia prides itself as a second-half team. But we do, too."
Junior running back Keyshawn Stewart rushed for 63 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries for Nashville. Quarterback Ty Gordon, also a junior, finished with 121 yards passing and one touchdown, an 81-yard pass to senior wide receiver Ty Basiliere.
With 6:32 remaining, senior running back Jacobe Jefferson scored from 7 yards out to cut the Badgers' lead to 21-19, but Stewart's 2-point conversion pass attempt was no good.
Arkadelphia then drove to the Nashville 28 before its drive stalled with Turner's incomplete pass that left 2:13 remaining and three timeouts for the Scrappers.
From there, Nashville went to work.
Stewart threw a 32-yard pass to Basiliere that put the ball at the Arkadelphia 40. Senior running back Carmillias Morrison ran 12 yards to the Arkadelphia 12, which helped set up Pioquinto's field goal.
"He's been money," Volarvich said of Pioquinto. "That last drive, our goal was to get into field goal range because we have all the confidence in the world in that guy."
The Badgers trailed 6-0 at halftime after not being able to take advantage of two interceptions by junior defensive back Kalan Jones.
But Arkadelphia took a 21-13 lead with 6:37 left in the third quarter, with two 8-yard touchdown runs by senior running back Kyren Harrison and a 3-yard scoring run by Turner.
Stewart provided the only scoring play of the first half with an 11-yard touchdown run with 8:11 left in the second quarter to give Nashville a 6-0 lead as Pioquinto missed the extra-point attempt.
For Arkadelphia, Turner was held to 43 yards passing, but had 124 yards rushing on 12 carries. Harrison rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.