The real Carlisle Bison football showed up Friday night in its playoff game with Marked Tree.
The Bison jumped out to a 24-0 lead then cruised to a 38-6 win over the Indians in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs at Fred C. Hardke Field.
The Bison (10-1) had struggled in a loss to Des Arc on Nov. 1 and a come-from-behind win over England in the regular-season finale Nov. 8.
“I thought we were pretty focused and clean up front early, especially offensively,” Carlisle coach Brandon Barbaree said. “We moved the ball well. Of course defensively, we took care of business early.”
Barbaree said the Indians presented some challenges with their passing game.
“That was good for us because we need to see that moving forward,” he said.
The Bison got the ball to start the game after Marked Tree won the opening coin toss and deferred to the second half. The Bison then drove 60 yards in five plays with Deron Ricks scoring on a 15-yard run with 10:09 left in the first quarter. He also scored the two-point conversion to make the score 8-0.
The Indians turned the ball over on downs but Carlisle was called for a late hit penalty, moving the ball to Bison 27.
Carlisle then took seven plays to score its second touchdown. Bo Weddle scored on a 15-yard run with 5:43 left in the first quarter. Justice Bryant added the two-point conversion to make the score 16-0. The big play of the drive was a 33-yard run by Ricks to the Marked Tree 28.
The Indians showed some life, driving the ball to the Bison 33 but turned it over on downs. After a short gain by Chance Richards and a holding penalty, the Bison had the ball at its own 29.
On the next play, Bison quarterback Chase Brazeal threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Braden Reed with 1:30 left in the first quarter. Richards scored the two-point conversion.
Marked Tree’s only score came on a 1-yard run by Brody McCrary with 10:18 left in the first half.
Carlisle pushed its lead to 32-6 on a 43-yard run by Ricks with 2:46 left in the first half. Weddle scored the two-point conversion.
Carlisle scored the only points of the second half. Bryant ran 66 yards for a touchdown with 11:33 left in the game.
The Bison finished with 451 yards in total offense, including 380 yards rushing. Ricks had 139 yards on 11 carries. Bryant had 82 yards on three carries. Weddle had 65 yards on 11 carries
The Indians had 252 yards in total offense, including 194 yards passing.
McCrary completed 19 of 30 passes.
Carlisle will host the Conway Christian Eagles in the second round of the Class 2A state playoffs this Friday at Fred C. Hardke Field.
The Eagles are 5-5 after beating Walnut Ridge 36-28 in the first round last Friday.
“The more we can play here, the better,” Barbaree said. “It’s always the case, getting to play in your home stadium and not having to take a long bus ride.”
Barbaree said the Eagles are a good football team.
“They did what they were supposed to do against a pretty decent Walnut Ridge team,” he said. “They will provide us some challenges because they will spread the field. They’ve got a heck of a quarterback. It’s going to definitely be a challenge for our defense.”
Barbaree was referring to quarterback Chandler Ferrand, who threw four touchdown passes in the Eagles’ win last week.
Barbaree said his team is healthy with the exception of quarterback Austin Reed, who is out for the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee.
“We should get Cory Hart back (sprained ankle)… that gives us more depth on special teams and on defense,” Barbaree said. “I think this last week, getting to play all our kids was great. It helps with our running backs’ legs and our offensive linemen.”