The Bulldogs had no miracles left Friday.
Pine Bluff ended the third-longest winning streak in the state and the third-longest active winning streak in the nation on Austin McGehee’s 42-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Zebras to a 37-34 win in the semifinals of the 6A State Playoffs.
"The kid made a great kick," Greenwood head coach Rick Jones said. "They had a good drive there late. It didn’t go our way. It’s like we ran out of miracles."
Pine Bluff (9-3-1) will play El Dorado, a 23-21 winner also Friday on a last-second field goal against Jonesboro, in the 6A State Championship Game on Dec. 7. Greenwood (12-1), the three-time defending state champion, last lost in September 2010 at Siloam Springs. Friday’s loss also ended a 14-game playoff winning streak.
One of those wins was 51-44 against Pine Bluff in last year’s 6A State Championship Game.
"We had the ‘sufflex’ working tonight. It’s old football phrase that means you can account for everything except that," said Pine Bluff head coach Bobby Bolding said, pointing to his heart. "We had that working tonight. That’s a great football team. We had to really play well."
Greenwood’s Kevin Jones kicked a 32-yard field goal on fourth-and-7 with 1:04 left that tied the game at 34.
"Our kids fought to the bitter end just like they’ve been trained to do and have so many times," Jones said. "It’s 51 games and the kids were fighting their hearts out trying to find a way to win."
Pine Bluff quarterback Ladarius Skelton ran 19 yards on first down to kick-start the game-winning drive for the Zebras.
After an incomplete pass, Greenwood was flagged for pass interference with 42 seconds left that moved the ball to Greenwood’s 46. Pine Bluff lost 2 yards, but Skelton fired an 18-yard pass to David Beasley at the left sideline to Greenwood’s 30 with eight seconds left. Trevor Hunt ran for 4 yards to the center of the field and Pine Bluff called timeout with two seconds left.
McGehee then calmly booted the 42-yard high-arcing field goal that cleared by about 4 yards to set off a wild celebration on the Zebras’ sideline.
The field goal capped a 17-point fourth quarter for Pine Bluff after Greenwood had led 31-20.
Pine Bluff took 16 plays to score on Skelton’s 34-yard pass down the middle of the field to Tyran Simmons with 7:15 left in the game. Skelton’s 2-point pass was broken up, which left Greenwood up, 31-26.
Pine Bluff forced Greenwood into a three-and-out and then took seven plays to take the lead on Trevor Hunt’s 3-yard scoring run with 3:15 left. Skelton also had the big run in that drive with a 38-yarder down the left sideline to Greenwood’s 9.
Skelton’s 2-point run put Pine Bluff up 34-31.
"I give Pine Bluff a ton of credit," Jones said. "They got on the bus early this morning and drove a long way and played a great football game. There are a dozen different things that we could have done differently and maybe it would have been a different outcome."
Greenwood calmly drove 63 yards to tie the game on Kevin Jones’ 32-yard field goal.
Pine Bluff’s defense halted Greenwood’s ground game, holding the Bulldogs to just 94 rushing yards on 23 attempts.
"They really got after us up front," Jones said. "Their front four got after us and their linebackers are very, very fast. Those guys did a great job up front. We were not able to get the running game going at all."
The Zebras’ defense, though, turned in its biggest plays with two interception returns for touchdowns.
"Obviously, those were big time," Bolding said. "Turnovers. You’ve got to get some things like that against them to have a chance to beat them. Our kids got it, and we got the win."
Greg Harvey stepped into front of a pass and returned it 91 yards with 4:30 left in the first quarter that put the Zebras up 13-7 after McGehee missed the extra point.
Pine Bluff added the other at a crucial junction in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs took a 17-13 halftime lead on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jabe Burgess to Ryan Padilla with 24 seconds left in the second quarter. The Bulldogs then took the second-half kickoff with a chance to add to their lead, but after consecutive penalties, including a block in the back that wiped out a first down, Romar Reades grabbed a batted pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown.
McGehee’s extra point put Pine Bluff up 20-17.
Greenwood answered on its next two drives.
The Bulldogs converted a fourth-down when Pine Bluff jumped offside with Greenwood in punt formation. Three plays later, Burgess hit Jones across the middle for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 6:52 left in the third quarter.
Pine Bluff drove to Greenwood’s 38 but Greenwood’s Kyle Pierce recovered a fumble. The Bulldogs struck again four plays later on a 17-yard touchdown run by Jones on a reverse. Jones’ PAT kick put Greenwood up 31-20 with 2:01 left in the third quarter.
Skelton led Pine Bluff’s bruising rushing attack with 91 yards. Hunt added 72 yards and Reades 51. The Zebras rushed 53 times for 258 yards in all. Skelton finished 5-of-13 passing for 97 yards and a touchdown.
"I told our offensive coordinator on the head set that every time we make a first down, their offense is standing over there on the sideline," Bolding said. "That’s a good thing."
Burgess was 21-of-29 passing for 332 yards and two touchdowns. Kevin Jones had seven catches for 151 yards and a touchdown and Padilla caught six passes for 110 yards and a touchdown.
6A State Playoffs
Pine Bluff 37
Summary — Pine Bluff ended Greenwood’s 50-game winning streak with a 32-yard field goal by Austin McGehee as time expired.
Turning Point — Pine Bluff took over with 64 seconds left and drove to Greenwood’s 26 on five plays with the aid of a pass interference penalty.
Stat — Pine Bluff returned two interceptions for touchdowns, including 91 yards and 26 yards.
High School Football
6A State Semifinals
Pine Bluff 37, Greenwood 34
Pine Bluff 13 0 7 17 — 37
Greenwood 10 7 14 3 — 34
PB — Hunt 5 run (McGehee kick), 7:34.
Gre — Garnes 5 run (Jones kick), 2:26.
PB — Harvey 91 interception return (kick failed), 4:30.
Gre — FG Jones 30, 0:42.
Gre — Padilla 20 pass from Burgess (Jones kick), 0:24.
PB — Reades 26 interception return (McGehee kick), 9:50.
Gre — Jones 15 pass from Burgess (Jones kick), 6:52.
Gre — Jones 25 run (Jones kick), 2:01.
PB — Simmons 34 pass from Skelton (pass failed), 7:14
PB — Hunt 3 run (Skelton run), 3:15.
Gre — FG Jones 32, 1:04.
PB — FG McGehee 42, 0:00.
First Downs 21 19
Rushes-Yards 53-258 23-94
Passing Yards 97 332
Comp-Att-Int 5-13-1 21-29-2
Punts-Avg. 1-34.0 2-42.5
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 4-29 4-46
RUSHING — Pine Bluff, Skelton 15-91, Hunt 16-72, Reades 13-51, White 5-23, Higgins 2-13, Beasley 1-9, team 1-(minus 1). Greenwood, Smith 16-59, Jones 1-25, Garnes 4-7, Burgess 2-3.
PASSING — Pine Bluff, Skelton 5-13-1 97. Greenwood, Burgess 21-29-2 332.
RECEIVING — Pine Bluff, Simmons 2-65, Gragg 2-14, Beasley 1-18. Greenwood, Jones 7-151, Padilla 6-110, Moore 2-30, Hasley 2-24, Smith 2-11, Morgan 1-3, Clemons 1-3.
MISSED FIELD GOALS — Pine Bluff, McGehee 38.