Carlisle’s dream of an undefeated conference and regular season came to an end Friday as the Des Arc Eagles held off the Bison for a 20-14 win at Fred C. Hardke Field.
The loss was Carlisle’s first of the season as the Bison drop a game behind Des Arc in the 2A-6 conference standings with one game to play.
Carlisle led 6-0 late in the first half when Deron Ricks scored on an 8-yard run with 47 seconds left.
The Bison (8-1, 5-1 2A-6) then kicked the ball out of the end zone on the kickoff but were called for offsides. That allowed the Eagles to get a good return and eventually score a touchdown on a 10-yard run on the final play of the half, tying the game at 6-6.
"We gave up all the momentum we had and they grabbed a hold of it," Bison coach Brandon Barbaree said.
Des Arc took a 12-6 lead on a 2-yard run with 8:43 left in the third quarter. The Eagles pushed their lead to 20-6 with 6:58 left in the game on a 4-yard pass from DeNarreyn Spencer to Tyler HIll with 6:58 left in the game. Spencer added the two-point conversion.
Carlisle cut the deficit to 20-14 on a 9-yard run by Ricks with 4:40 left. He also scored the two-point conversion.
Barbaree said the Eagles’ physical play and big players up was the difference.
"They are a really fundamentally-sound, well-coached football team," Barbaree said of the Eagles. "Their kids played extremely hard and extremely emotional.
"I never want to take anything away from them on how hard they played. We got to the point where we had one wing back left."
Barbaree was referring to Ricks. Bo Weddle and Justice Bryant were injured in the first quarter. Weddle was able to return on defense and blocked some in the fourth quarter but was not able to run the ball with an injured leg. Chance Richards, who ran the ball hard on the Bison’s first touchdown drive, injured an ankle in the second half.
"It kind of made us one-sided," Barbaree said. "It was tough on us but I can never say anything bad about them [Des Arc] because they played their tails off.
"We were shuffling bodies in there. They just out-physicaled us. We weren’t able to overcome that."
The Bison had a chance late in the game to tie or win, moving the ball inside the Des Arc 35 but Hill intercepted a Chase Brazeal pass late to secure the win.
"Chase played the entire game and did a pretty good job," Barbaree said of his junior quarterback, who took over for senior starter Austin Reed, who is out for the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. "He was real consistent for us and probably had only one or two mistakes and that didn’t really hurt us. I was really proud of him, being in the big moment. We just didn’t have enough there at the end."
Ricks led the Bison with 150 yards rushing on 24 carries in the loss.
Carlisle will travel to England to take on the Lions in the regular-season finale. There are several scenarios where the Bison can still have a home playoff game and even have the top seed in the playoffs. That would take a win over England and a victory by Hazen over Des Arc by at least seven points.
"We need to take care of England," Barbaree said. "They are going to be fast and they will give us some problems. We’ve got to get healthy and continue to get better. If we don’t, then we’re a 3 seed. If we do, we’re a 2 seed with a chance at the 1 seed."
Barbaree said he wasn’t disappointed with his team’s effort against Des Arc — just the result.
"There is no reason to be happy over a loss," he said. "But they kept fighting."
Game time is 7 p.m. at Gaylon Gibbs Field.