Early big play by Rogers makes difference in the season opener.
Van Buren’s defense held fast, but an early touchdown by Rogers spelled the difference as the visiting Mounties won 7-6 Thursday night at Citizens Bank Stadium at Blakemore Field.
Josh Workman took the first play for the Mounties 81 yards for the score and Rogers led 7-0 with 5:27 remaining in the first quarter.
The Mounties were limited to another 90 yards the duration of the game and forced to punt on three of its four possessions. Rogers ran out the clock to end the first half still holding to its 7-0 lead.
The Pointers were forced to punt after going three and out on the first drive of the game but had an 11-play drive on its next possession. However, the drive stalled on the Rogers 14 after two incomplete passes from Gary Phillips.
Phillips led the offense with 16 carries for 87 yards and completed 8 of 12 passes for 88 yards to five different receivers.
His 11-yard over-the-middle pass to Brayden Branch set up Branch’s 44-yard run on the next play. The score put Van Buren on the board with 2:21 remaining in the third quarter. The Pointers tried for the two-point conversion but came up short.
Rogers put together its longest drive of the night, a 10-play drive which stalled on the Pointer 40.
Van Buren went to work starting on their own 20 after the punt with 5:58 remaining in the game.
The Pointers converted a third down and a pair of fourth downs to keep the ball moving. Van Buren reached the Rogers 14 after a nine-yard run from Phillips with under a minute left to play.
Van Buren’s second fumble of the game ended the drive and the Pointer’s chances to take the lead.
Xavier McCormick added eight carries for 58 yards and Branch hauled in three passes for 32 yards.
Workman finished with 75 yards on three carries after he was tackled for a loss and held to no gain on his other two totes. Quarterback Christian Francisco, who looked every bit of his 5-3 listing on the roster added four carries for 7 yards and completed 2 of 4 passes for 21 yards.
Gavin Pitts had eight carries for 43 yards and Aaron Rendon carried the ball five times for 25 yards.
McCormick came up with a big stop to push Rogers to fourth-and-20 from their own 5 and Bogie Poole was the first one in the backfield to help sack Francisco for a 10-yard loss to end the first half.
Van Buren hits the road for the next three games starting with a trip to Greenbrier on Sept. 7 and a trip to Morrilton on Sept. 14. Van Buren returns to the area for River Valley Conference play on Sept. 21 at Northside to face Darby before returning home on Sept. 28 to host Kimmons.