GURDON — With two of the top teams in the state for Class 2A facing off for week 8 of Arkansas High School football, the atmosphere was high in G-town for an intense "Friday Night Lights" showdown at Go-Devil Stadium, Gus Brown Field. The No. 2 ranked Gurdon Go-Devils (6-1 overall, 2-0 conf.) welcomed the undefeated No. 4 ranked Poyen Indians (7-1 overall, 2-1 conf.) for what many believe was the deciding game to capture the 5-2A Conference title. It was homecoming in Gurdon and the Tribe looked to spoil the evening.
The Tribe brought their hard competitive play to Clark County, but a loaded, experienced athletic and physical Go-Devil team prevailed 42-7 for Hooten's 2A Game of the Week. Gurdon snapped Poyen's unbeaten and seven-game winning streak.
Poyen Indians football head coach Vick Barrett wasn't disappointed by the loss. Of course, the Tribe wanted to win, but Barrett felt his troops battled to the end against a really good football team—Gurdon.
"It always hurts to lose. But we battled. Our kids played hard and made it a game," Barrett said. "We got some big stops—just couldn't put it into the end zone."
Barrett commended how great of a football team Gurdon is. "They're just a really good football team. They were really fast and athletic," Barrett mentioned.
The Go-Devils showcased a high-energy paced performance of speed and athletic ability. But, the Tribe surprised the No. 2 ranked Go-Devils early by their physical and aggressive play in the first half.
With a rainy and drizzling start, the Tribe started out the game utilizing their run game. Poyen's Blake Rhodes charged productively with the pigskin (football) for two explosive first down drives through Gurdon's defense for well executed plays—down to the 11:19 mark. But, an unfortunate interception by Poyen turned over possession and Gurdon's Sam Bell coming up with the INT put the Go-Devils in good position at the 10:27 mark. Now with some momentum, Jameson Threadgill exploded for a 55-yard touchdown run at the 9:49 mark. The extra point was good and Gurdon led Poyen 7-0.
After Poyen would fall short to convert on downs, Gurdon regained possession from their own 45 yard line at the 7:07 mark. More efficient ground attack came from the Go-Devils that moved them in Poyen's territory. At the 6:18 mark, Bell would score on a 4-yard touchdown run with PAT good by Daniel Garcia and Gurdon had a two TD lead over Poyen, 14-0.
The Tribe didn't back down and made key plays out of their execution to spark their ground attack. Rhodes picked up two key first down runs, then senior quarterback Jaxson Carter completed a first down pass reception to Rhodes to move Poyen inside the red zone in Gurdon territory. At the 2:01 mark, Carter soared across the goal line on a 7-yard touchdown run and the PAT was good by Lathan Aaron to end first quarter play—Poyen trailing 14-7.
In the second, the Go-Devils dug deep and stepped up their level of execution led by Threadgill—scoring Gurdon's third touchdown of the game on a 11-yard run at the 9:34 mark. The extra point attempt was no good, but Gurdon led Poyen 20-7. During the quarter, Poyen's defense came up big to make key stops and force Gurdon to punt. Poyen even stopped a huge fourth down drive against Gurdon to keep them scoring under the 4:00 mark. Brandon Sanchez picked up a key first down run on a reverse for positive yardage and an offensive spark for the Tribe before halftime. But, at the break, Gurdon held a 20-7 lead over the Indians.
In the second half, the Tribe would fall short to score for the final 24 minutes of action. Gurdon's defense sparked their offensive scheme with a safety by blocking a punt attempt from Poyen in the third quarter at the 7:54 mark to increase their lead 22-7. Later, in the third at the 3:29 mark, Threadgill scored on a 37-yard touchdown run with the PAT good and Gurdon held a commanding 29-7 lead at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth, the Go-Devils put the game away for two final end zone trips scored by Royrick Anderson on a 6-yard touchdown run—7:39 mark and Bell scoring a 1-yard TD run—1:28 mark to give Gurdon its 35-point victory and sixth consecutive victory. The Tribe would execute a few big plays for first downs with Lowe on the run game and Carter completing a pass to Sanchez for a reception.
Although this is the first time Poyen has tasted defeat for the 2020 season, Barrett knows his Tribe will aim to be ready for their next bout to finish the regular season high against arch-rivals Magnet Cove in week 10.
"We're still a good football team. We will use this game and loss to build off of and let this fuel us," Barrett said. He added, " We have a bye week and have another big game against Magnet Cove at our place and get back on track."
The Tribe will close out the conference season hosting the Magnet Cove Panthers November 6 to feature its rivalry game—The Backyard Brawl at Malvern National Bank Stadium, Indian Field.