PEA RIDGE — The preseason goal of earning sole ownership of the 5A-West crown was one game away for Harrison when they traveled to Pea Ridge on Friday.
For the seniors on the Goblin squad, it was their 22nd conference game and the veteran group had yet to lose one of those contests.
Four quarters later, the Harrison football team celebrated with a 49-28 victory.
“We really had to earn it,” Goblin head coach Joel Wells commented postgame. “With big wins on the road at Greenbriar and Morrilton and to win the 5A-West four times in a row is very difficult. But to win it three years in a row with no losses is almost impossible and that is a testament to our kids’ work ethic and commitment.”
Wells’ message to his team after the game was praise.
“Congratulations,” he told his players. “You earned it!”
An aggressive passing game early was effective with very few obstacles to overcome as the Goblins took a 35-14 lead into halftime.
Cole Keylon had a hand in all five of Harrison’s first half touchdowns. Two were attributed to the senior quarterback running the ball. Keylon completed a pair of long touchdown passes to fellow senior Noah Moix. A third scoring completion was a 37-yard strike to Trey Richardson.
“We have had great success in the passing game,” said the coach. “Our receivers are quick and our quarterback is very accurate. That has translated into a lot of big plays.
Harrison led by three touchdowns at intermission.
“We started quick and that was important on the road,” Wells noted. “I thought our determination to win was very good.”
The second half featured the Goblin defense forcing a turnover on downs near the Pea Ridge goal line.
Harrison wasted little time and Keylon connected with Lane Johnson on a 96-yard completion that put the Goblins ahead, 42-14.
Pea Ridge responded by scoring on back-to-back-possessions to narrow the deficit, 42-28.
“Pea Ridge is a much better football team than their record,” Wells noted of the opponent. “Their offensive line is very good and well coached. It was a tough matchup for our defensive line. They are good up front and have probably the best tackle we have seen.”
The 42-28 score was as close as the Blackhawks would get the rest of the way.
Beck Jones provided Harrison’s final score of the night on a 19-yard run in the final minutes of the fourth period.
The win earned Harrison a bye week for the first round of the Class 5A State Football Playoffs. The Goblins will play the winner of Beebe and Camden Fairview on Nov. 20 at F.S. Garrison Stadium.
“This year it is a blessing,” Wells responded to having a bye week before beginning the playoffs. “We earned it and need it to help up. Having two weeks to prepare for an opponent is always good.
“Our players understand the importance of the games from here on out,” Wells concluded. “Win and advance, lose and go home.”
Keylon led the stat sheet completing 10-of-20 passes for 378 yards and three touchdowns.
Both of Moix’s catches were for touchdowns and compiled 162 yards. Johnson had three catches for 110 yards and a score. Richardson had two catches for 75 yards and found the end zone. Dylan Block and three receptions for 31 yards.
Keylon had nine rushes for 36 yards and two touchdowns. Jordin Welsh ran seven times for 36 yards and Jones had the final rushing score of 19 yards.