The Harrison Golden Goblins proved on Friday night why they’re undefeated and the top seed from the 5A-West when they hosted Batesville for the opening game of the Class 5A State Football Playoffs.
Batesville had no answer for the Goblin run game as Harrison cruised to a 49-14 mercy rule win over the Pioneers at F.S. Garrison Stadium.
It only took 46 seconds and three plays for the Goblins to get on the scoreboard. Goblin quarterback Ben Johnson connected with Rilee Jones down the left sideline for an 18-yard passing play on the second play of the game. Senior Gabe Huskey wasted little time getting his first touchdown of the game with a 36-yard run down the sideline to give Harrison the early lead. Max Payne made it a 7-0 Goblin lead with the extra point.
Batesville battled right back with an 80-yard drive that required 14 plays over 4 minutes to even the score at seven apiece.
Harrison then scored six unanswered touchdowns to put the game away.
Johnson faked a handoff and ran the ball up the gut with defenders pulling on his jersey as he crossed the goal line at the 4:24 mark in the first quarter to make it a 14-7 Harrison lead.
Two plays into Batesville’s next drive, Harrison junior Trey Richardson forced a fumble that was recovered by the Goblin defense and momentum stayed in favor of the home team.
The first Harrison play after the turnover resulted in Cole Keylon connecting with Colton Shaver for a 24-yard touchdown pass. The PAT put Harrison ahead, 21-7.
Harrison’s defense stayed steady as Batesville’s next possession resulted in Harrison’s Bryant Ulrich intercepting a pass at the Pioneer 43-yard line.
A six-play drive finished with Huskey showing patience behind the offensive line. After waiting for a hole to open up, Huskey sprinted forward for a 12-yard rushing score.
Leading 28-7 with 54.9 seconds remaining in the first half, the Goblins built their lead even bigger before halftime.
After the Pioneers turned the ball over on downs at the 50-yard line, Johnson scrambled out of the pocket and found Huskey on the right side of the field. Huskey broke loose down the left sideline for a 50-yard touchdown reception and his third score of the game to increase the Goblin lead to 35-7.
Harrison picked up where they left off in the second half.
Five plays into the Pioneers opening drive of the third quarter, Shaver picked off a pass which was the Goblin defense’s third forced turnover of the game.
The Goblins only needed 26 seconds to find the end zone again.
Johnson completed a 34-yard slant to Shaver followed by a scoring run on the next play that Johnson took 29 yards for a score to put Harrison ahead, 42-7.
Batesville punted after a three-and-out and the Goblins went right back to work.
Facing a third-and-long, Keylon connected with Noah Moix on a slant route for a 21-yard gain to move the chains. Brody Gilliam ran for a 19-yard gain followed by Keylon scoring on a 19-yard run to score the final Goblin touchdown of the night.
Payne stayed a perfect 7-of-7 on extra point attempts to make it a 49-7 score.
The Pioneers managed three long passing plays in their final drive before scoring on an 11-yard rush to get on the scoreboard, trailing 49-14.
Harrison closed the game as they so often have, with back-to-back victory formations to run out the clock and advance to the second round of the playoffs.
With the win, the Goblins advance to play Pulaski Academy on Friday, Nov. 22, at F.S. Garrison Stadium.
Pulaski Academy defeated Magnolia by a 63-34 score on Friday to advance to play the Goblins.