On Saturday, April 3rd, the Ouachita Reapers rolled into their second home game of the season with a chip on their shoulder. They fell in overtime to Arkansas Xtra in an impromptu home opener two weeks ago so a win for the home crowd was heavily desired by the team. The Reapers gave it their all but fell to the Jonesboro Gladiators 18-10 in the end.
Ouachita started off with a bang receiving the opening kickoff. On the third play of the game, the Reapers handed off the ball to running back Timothy Hill who got completely lit up by the Jonesboro defense. The hit has so massive that drivers on 71 Highway began looking for a car accident. But Hill popped right back up and the Reapers keep on trucking as quarterback Alex Cantrell began opening things up with passes to Hayden Gray and Deonte Jamison. Ouachita was able to get the smell of the end zone, but that was as far as they got on their opening drive. The Reapers defense stood strong though keeping Jonesboro locked down for the first quarter as it ended 0-0.
The Reapers switched gears early in the second quarter. Rather than having the offense get the highlight reels, it was the defense who began to set the field on fire. Early in the second quarter, Terrance Floyd put on his cape and soared into the atmosphere to snag a Gladiators pass and take it back for the Reaper’s first score of the game. Ouachita tacked on the 2 point conversion and took an early 8-0 lead. Jonesboro wasted no time putting their points on the board after the interception. Unfortunately for the Gladiators, they fumbled their extra point attempt and Isaiah Gulley scooped the ball up and began to tank his way downfield. As Gulley got to the 10-yard line, Jonesboro caught up with him but being aware of the situation, he lateraled the ball to Tony Williams who crossed the goal line for the Reapers to steal Jonesboro’s extra points and earn a 10-6 lead.
Jonesboro must’ve been hearing footsteps because they couldn’t get away from the Reaper’s defensive pressure. Turnovers became more than a sweet pastry as the Reapers created a total of four turnovers in the second quarter as Williams also rounded up a fumble recovery. Ouachita made a couple of inadvertent turnovers themselves though as momentum swung back and forth. Jonesboro was able to overcome their fumbling and stumbling ways though and found a crease in the Reapers coverage to hit the open pass for a touchdown. Ouachita was able to keep them out of the end zone for the extra point again though as the teams headed into halftime with the Reapers down 12-10.
Ouachita started out the second half on defense and was quick to snag yet another Gladiator pass when Jacob Nichols snagged an interception to hype up the crowd and give the Reapers the ball back. Unfortunately, Ouachita wasn’t able to kick start their offense to maintain the momentum of the game. The Reapers defense continued to pound Jonesboro but exhaustion crept its way into the Reapers defensive crypt. Jonesboro was able to score one more time in the closing minutes of the 4th quarter as the Reapers hourglass ran out of sand to give a final score of 18-10 in Jonesboro’s favor.
The Reapers did put on quite the showcase though. Massive hits, 6 total turnovers in the game, and a solid clean game gave Reapers fans something to hold on to in the future. This is a team full of talent and comradery at its finest. For a second-year program with small numbers going up against heavy hitter programs that have been in the league for many years, Ouachita fans should be very proud of what these players and coaches have been able to accomplish in such a small amount of time. The Reapers will host the Arkansas Punishers on Saturday, April 10th at Sawyer Wright Field in Waldron. The Punishers are the top team in the league this season, but the Reapers have full intentions to take the Punishers down a notch or two.