Football is called football for a reason, particularly in a tight playoff contest when a field goal or an extra point becomes the deciding factor in the outcome of the game. Such was the case in Friday's second round playoff matchup between the Barton Bears and the Hoxie Mustangs.
Football is called football for a reason, particularly in a tight playoff contest when a field goal or an extra point becomes the deciding factor in the outcome of the game. Such was the case in Friday's second round playoff matchup between the Barton Bears and the Hoxie Mustangs. You could have heard a pin drop on the Barton side of the stadium when the Hoxie kicker lined up to kick the extra point in overtime. Fans who covered their eyes heard a clinking sound as if the ball had struck the uprights. It's safe to look now right? The ball must have trickled away from the goalpost and there will be a second overtime. However, that was not the case. The ball fell just inside the crossbars and the Hoxie Mustangs walked away a 27-26 winner and advanced to a November 29 meeting with the Fordyce Redbugs. For the Bears, season over. Barton was literally inches away from notching yet another playoff victory. The lights may have gone out on football in Phillips County for the 2013 season on this Friday evening but the mighty Bears did not go down without a fight. Hoxie got the ball first and quickly went three and out. The so-called experts said the kicking game could be a deciding factor in the contest and so indeed it was. The Mustangs' first punt netted only 10 yards and Barton quickly took advantage of the excellent field position at the Hoxie 40. Chajobie Fulcher got the Bears on the scoreboard first with a 40-yard touchdown ramble. Justin Wilson added the extra point and Barton led 7-0 with 7:36 left to play in the opening quarter. It took Hoxie just 47 seconds to answer the Bears' score when Cole Sears tossed a 48-yard scoring strike with 6:49 left to play in the quarter. A botched extra point left the Mustangs on the short end of the scoreboard at 7-6. Penalties, turnovers and a rain-soaked, muddy playing field didn't help Barton's offensive cause. Hoxie recovered the first of two Bear fumbles with 4:49 left in the half. Justice Cole added to his interception record when he picked off a Sears' pass at the Barton 1 yard line. Earlier in the quarter Wilson missed a 27-yard field goal attempt by the Bears. A somewhat controversial penalty gave the Mustangs new life on a late first half drive when apparently they were going to have to turn the ball over on downs. On the next play, Sears tossed a short screen pass that quickly turned into a 47-yard scoring play. The Bears' defense stopped the 2-point conversion try but with 2:41 left to play in the half, the Mustangs had their first lead of the night. They would not relinquish that lead until midway through the third quarter. Barton came out of the gate strong in the second half. Trailing 12-7, the Bears engineered a 67-yard opening drive that consumed 6:30 minutes of the third quarter clock. The drive culminated with a 4-yard TD run by Fulcher. Despite missing the extra point, Barton had regained the lead at 13-12. The Bear defense also played well in the third quarter, forcing the Mustangs to punt the ball away on their first series of the second half. However, Barton's second fumble of the night gave Hoxie a golden opportunity at the Bear 7. The Mustangs eventually punched the ball in from a yard out with 2:07 remaining in a rapidly played game. Hoxie lined up for the extra point try but the holder took the snap and ran the ball in untouched for the 2-point conversion, lifting the Mustangs into a 20-13 advantage. The score would remain that way until 1:34 left in regulation. Barton drove the ball to the Hoxie 10-yard line with 6:08 to play but that drive stalled and the Bears turned the ball over on downs. Hoxie began to move the ball methodically down the field grabbing huge chunks of real estate and more importantly eating up the time remaining on the clock. On a crucial fourth down play, the Mustangs opted to go for it at the Barton 40 instead of attempting to pin the Bears deep in their territory with a punt. Hoxie turned the ball over on downs and Barton had one more opportunity to pull this game out. With 1:34 remaining and no time outs, quarterback Laquarius Hall lofted a Hail Mary pass in Cole's direction that resulted in a 56-yard touchdown. Wilson's extra point tied the game at 20-20. Barton got the ball first in the overtime session. Hall pushed the ball across the goal line from a yard out. Wilson's extra point try was wide of its mark and Barton led 26-20. It took Hoxie just two plays to tie the score on a 10-yard run. The extra point struck the right goal post and with a Mustang bounce the game ended. The Bears complete the 2013 season with a 9-3 record. A mere three points decided Barton's two playoff games. Hoxie kept its perfect record intact at 12-0.