After Mountain Home had climbed within one touchdown on its first possession of the second half, Searcy’s Luke Dixon squelched the Bombers’ momentum with an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and the host team would not be able to make it a one-possession game again.
Dixon romped for 316 yards on 30 carries and added plenty more on kick returns as the Lions pulled away for a 61-26 victory over the Bombers in 7A/6A-East Conference action Friday night on Senior Night at Bomber Stadium.
The Bombers — who officially were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss — fall to 1-8 overall and 0-6 in league play, while the Lions improve to 6-3 overall and 3-3 in the conference.
“Our seniors competed and our guys left it all on the field tonight,” Mountain Home head coach David Joyce said. “It’s not the way they wanted their last home game to go, but they didn’t leave anything in the tank.”
Despite the 35-point, mercy-rule loss, Mountain Home outgained Searcy in total offense, 457-405. But, several big kickoff returns — including the touchdown — by Dixon in the second half, and two interception returns for touchdowns led Searcy to 33 points over the final 19 minutes.
Mountain Home had pulled within single digits twice in the first half at 14-6 and 21-12, responding to Searcy scores, but Dixon’s 16-yard touchdown run with just :23 left in the half put the visitors up 28-12 going into the intermission.
The Bombers came out of the locker room and again rallied within eight after a 10-play drive that saw Drew Strope and Payton Parker each catch passes and Riley Peters score on a 10-yard run. Strope took a pitch and converted the 2-point run to make it 28-20 with 7:26 left in the third.
Dixon responded with the 80-yard kick return, breaking past the Bombers to make it 35-20.
“The one thing I said was not to kick it to (Dixon),” Joyce said. “The next kickoff, we tried to kick it to the other guy, and he ran over and caught it anyway. He was fast enough to run across the field and catch the kickoff. We just have to do a better job of covering. He might be the best athlete in the conference. He’s not very big, but he’s athletic and strong.”
Mountain Home responded with a 53-yard pass from quarterback Zane Walker to Kolt Kincade, followed by a 1-yard TD from Walker to draw within 35-26. The 2-point try failed, however, and the Bombers still trailed by two possessions.
Dixon followed with a 55-yard kickoff return that set up his fifth touchdown of the night, making it 42-26 with 3:08 left in the third. The Bombers were driving again, but Searcy’s Jackson Hall made a leaping grab of a Walker pass and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown for a 48-26 lead.
On Mountain Home’s next possession, Searcy’s Michael Parsley returned an interception 73 yards for a touchdown.
“The last pick-six was on a 4th-and-9 where we had to take a shot,” Joyce said. “Zane got pressured and didn’t get behind the throw. The first pick-six, their kid made a great catch.”
The pick-six made it 54-26, and Searcy added its final touchdown on Dixon’s longest run of the night, a 94-yard sprint down the right sideline for the 61-26 finale. Dixon finished with six touchdowns on the night for Searcy, while the Lions had the two defensive scores and a receiving touchdown from Trenton Turner.
“We were playing good defense and forced four fourth downs in the first half,” Joyce said. “We were holding them to 2- and 3-yard gains. We just couldn’t come up with the play to get off the field.”
Walker completed his first nine passes of the night, and finished 15 of 23 for 224 yards. The Bombers rushed for 233 yards, led by Walker’s 74 yards on 15 keepers. Strope added 67 yards on nine carries, and the senior also caught five passes for 62 yards.
Kincade led the Bombers with 63 receiving yards on two catches, while Parker caught four passes for 55 yards.
Searcy quarterback Andrew Neaville was 7 of 9 passing for 65 yards.
The Bombers travel to West Memphis to end the season on Friday.
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