The Mountain Home Bombers, along with their administration, coaches, and fans, didn’t much like the idea of returning to Greenwood again after playing two games at Smith-Robinson Stadium last season. Their third consecutive trip to South Sebastian County last Friday also held little charm for the Bombers (0-3), losing again to the Bulldogs by mercy rule, 49-0.
In 2021 the Bulldogs beat Mountain Home 31-7 during the regular season in conference play, then shut them out, 42-0, in the playoffs. Add Friday’s 49-0 shellacking and the visitors from Baxter County have been outscored by Greenwood, 122-7, over the past 13 months. Since it seems doubtful the two teams will meet in the postseason this fall, the Bombers will have to console themselves with hosting the Bulldogs next season.
But after two grueling contests against Stillwater (OK) and Fort Smith Northside to open their season, a blowout win over the Bombers was just what the doctor ordered, especially with a couple starters missing due to injuries suffered in the Bulldogs’ miracle comeback victory over the Grizzlies last week. Receiver L.J. Robbins and running back Jake Glover were both sidelined against Mountain Home but should return next week.
Senior quarterback Hunter Houston was also injured against the Grizzlies and did not play in the second half, but returned Friday night against the Bombers and had a nice first half despite playing through some pain. Due to the lopsided nature of the contest, he also did not play in the second half against the Bombers, giving way to freshman Kane Archer.
The Bombers received the opening kick and moved for a first down on their initial possession, but ultimately punted the ball to the Greenwood 32-yard-line after a short return. Houston and company then put together a 12-play drive that yielded the game’s first touchdown. Only one of the dozen snaps resulted in gains of more than eight yards, and that was the last one, a 14-yard dash by senior running back Javon Williamson for the score. Senior Steven Duran booted the extra point for a 7-0 GHS lead at the 6:53 mark of the opening quarter.
The Bulldogs’ next score came just over three minutes later after junior defensive back Josh Allen picked off a Bombers’ pass at the Mountain Home 43 with no return. Four plays later Greenwood was on the scoreboard again. On second down, Houston dumped a swing pass to Williamson for 15 yards to the 28. After Williamson carried for six yards to the 22, he received another short pass from Houston and stutter stepped his way into the end zone. Duran’s kick was good again.
Ahead 14-0, the Bulldogs’ defense continued to do its thing, leading to another quick pick by junior D-back Landon Nelms that was returned 30 yards for a touchdown. But the score was nullified by a GHS penalty after the interception, moving the ball back to the Mountain Home 36-yard-line.
Three snaps later, facing third-and-11, Hunter Houston connected with Aiden Kennon near the Bombers’ sideline, and the big senior battled his way to the 9-yard-line for a first down. Houston then ran to the five before flipping a short toss to sophomore Grant Karnes for the touchdown around right end. The kick by Duran made it 21-0 with 10 seconds left in the opening period.
Shellshocked, the Bombers continued to struggle on offense, punting the ball away again just moments later early in the second quarter. The ball rolled to the GHS 10, but the Bulldogs weren’t fazed, driving 90 yards in 14 plays over 2½ minutes. A swing pass to Kennon got the ball rolling with a nice gain out to the 34. Kennon would also be on the other end of the possession with a 17-yard TD reception. Houston was eight of 12 passing on the drive. Duran’s kick was good again.
Trailing 28-0 with 7:28 remaining in the first half, the Bombers continued to give up the football, this time on a fumble recovered by Greenwood junior Riley White at the visitors’ 13-yard-line. A penalty pushed the ball back to the 18 and the ‘Dogs soon faced third-and-15. But Houston rolled to his right and found Grant Karnes for a first down reception at the 2-yard-line. Williamson then ran twice, the second time for the touchdown. The PAT made it 35-0 at the 4:56 mark, ensuring that the second half would be played under the mercy rule with a running clock.
But the Bulldogs weren’t finished, causing and recovering another fumble at the Bombers’ 15-yard-line. Once again it was Riley White who covered the ball for Greenwood. Kane Archer then entered the game for Houston and immediately threw to Karnes for seven yards to the eight. The freshman then scrambled around in the backfield until spotting an opening and running for the touchdown around the left side. Duran’s extra point made it 42-0 (3:26).
With Greenwood’s second team defense in the game, Mountain Home was able to drive to the GHS 20 before giving the ball up on downs. Archer then took a knee to run out what was left of the first half with the home team comfortably ahead, 42-0. Most of Greenwood’s starters on both sides of the ball would not see the field again in the second half.
The GHS offense added one more touchdown on its second possession of the second half. After a fair catch interference call on Mountain Home, the Bulldogs had the football at their own 40-yard-line. With Archer at the controls, Wiliamson ran for four yards on first down. Archer then threw to Karnes for a short gain to the Bombers’ 47. Junior Evan Reid caught a pass to the 40 before Karnes made a spectacular sideline catch on a nicely thrown ball by Archer that reached the visitors’ 9-yard-line. After a pair of incompletions, Archer found sophomore Isaiah Arrington in the right side of the end zone for the touchdown strike. Duran’s kick made the final score 49-0.
Neither team scored the rest of the way, though Greenwood’s Caden Nelms picked off a deflected Bombers’ pass at the GHS 3-yard-line, likely preserving the shutout. With the mercy rule in play, the game took less than two hours to complete, unlike the previous week when the game against Northside didn’t end until after 10:30 p.m., though the outcome was certainly worth the wait for Bulldogs’ fans.
After the game, Coach Young talked with members of the media on the field, happy for the win but not pleased about everything he saw from his team. “I thought we had a really good week of practice,” began Young, “but I’m still frustrated by some mistakes we made tonight. Obviously, we can’t have those silly penalties, that’s not us,” referring to a couple personal foul calls in the game. “We’ve got to be smarter than that. Those can come back to get you in big ballgames.
“But it was a good win,” he continued. “I thought our defense played with a lot of confidence. Getting the shutout was big for those guys after the last two weeks, so I was proud of them, holding [Mountain Home] out of the end zone and getting some turnovers. That was big. We’ve just got to continue to get better. We can get better each week and that’s our goal.
“[Offensively], we had two guys out in L.J. [Robbins] and Jake [Glover] and that allowed [the Bombers] to focus on Grant [Karnes] and Aiden [Kennon]. But we missed some throws and dropped some balls, and we just weren’t clean. We need not to make those mistakes. It’s about getting better and playing our best. We did some good things, and the result was good, but too many people look at the result and not the process. We’re really focused on the process. We want to be perfect on every play.”
Unofficial stats for the game showed Hunter Houston finishing his night with 199 yards passing, completing 21 of 29 attempts for three touchdowns through the air. Kane Archer was seven of 15 passing for 72 yards and one score. The freshman also scored a rushing touchdown. Kicker Steven Duran was perfect on all seven extra points tries.
Several receivers had significant stats for the game, led by super sophomore Grant Karnes with nine catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. Aiden Kennon had 76 yards on five grabs with one score, Isaiah Arrington had seven receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown, and running back Javon Williamson had three catches and 50 yards rushing on 10 carries with three touchdowns scored, two on the ground and one through the air.
In other 6A West action last Friday, Van Buren had an open date, Little Rock Christian lost to Lake Hamilton, 34-19, and Pulaski Academy defeated Russellville, 35-17. Both LRC and PA teams are new to the league this season. Another new conference member, Greenbrier, beat Siloam Springs, 48-18. The Bulldogs will travel north to Siloam Springs next Friday to take on the Panthers. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.