TEXARKANA - Five lost fumbles, including one at the 1-yard line, was too much for Magnolia to overcome during its 5A-South Conference opener at Arkansas High in Texarkana.
“Our defense played lights out all night long. We have to find a way of stop shooting ourselves in the foot,” Magnolia head coach Mark King said following the Panthers’ 30-22 loss to the Razorbacks. Magnolia entered the game averaging three lost fumbles per game.
“We outplayed them and they were lucky to come out with a win. They didn’t stop us all night. We stopped ourselves by dropping passes, penalties and the fumbles,” said the coach. “We can’t turn the ball over that many times against a good football team. If we stop fumbling, we are going to be a tough team to beat.”
The Panthers will play their first home conference game Friday night against Hot Springs Lakeside, who dropped a close 26-21 decision to Camden Fairview.
Against the Razorbacks, the Panthers used an 11-play, 68-yard drive to go up 7-0 following Jay Todd Baker’s PAT. On a fourth-and-8, quarterback Braelyn Beasley threw a 21-yard pass to Sid Hampton to keep the drive alive. Four plays later, Amir Cooper scored from the 13.
A bad pitch from Beasley to Cooper resulted in Magnolia’s first fumble during the first quarter. A low and bobbled snap during a punt from the end zone gave the Hogs two points, making it 7-2. Magnolia went on to fumble three more times in the second quarter, including once at the Arkansas High 1-yard-line after driving from its own 11. Javorrea Murphy had a 44-yard run and the Panthers had traveled 88 yards before the fumble occurred during the quarterback/center exchange.
Another fumble took place at the AHS 15-yard line. The Razorbacks managed to score with 46 seconds to lead 9-2 at half-time.
The Panthers, following a 12-play, 63-yard drive, regained the lead, 14-9, off Murphy’s 1-yard run. Arkansas High’s Louis Blackwell returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to make it 16-14.
The Hogs stretched their lead to 23-14 early in the fourth quarter. An inadvertent whistle kept the Panthers from returning the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown. Five plays later, the Panthers fumbled the ball away again.
Arkansas High added another TD to make it 30-14, but the Panthers fell short during a late rally. A reverse call allowed Kahlil Collins to score and a two-point pass to James’Darius Smith made it 30-22.
The Panthers successfully recovered the on-side kick, but their desperation final play was intercepted.
Murphy led the team in rushing with 121 yards, while Beasley followed with 105. Magnolia had 335 yards of total offense in the game.