The story from Friday nights 2018 season opening, 30-0 win over Clarksville was the loss of quarterback Brandon Ulmer in the first quarter.
With 1:20 left in the quarter the Bearcats (1-0) led 7-0 on the strength of a 30-yard Michael Hesson touchdown run, and had just gotten a fumble recovery from Jeremy Elliott at the Clarksville 21-yard line.
Ulmer immediately went up top to try to take advantage of the gift but Garrett Waddill was able to keep Ethan Dobbs from hauling in a pass at the goal line.
Ulmer called his own number on the next play and had picked up 3 yards when he went down awkwardly and on his own.
He would not return and the word from the sideline was Ulmer would have an MRI early this week to determine the extent of the damage and the next steps for the multiple-sport athlete, who is committed to play baseball for Arkansas State University.
With the All State starter out the next man up was Evan Schlinker, the offspring of an All State quarterback who finished one and started another game last year due to a knee injury to Ulmer.
Schlinker’s 2018 debut was inauspicious as the Bearcats would fumble the ball the next snap, with Colby Burkett recovering for the Panthers.
Clarksville tried to seize momentum, picking up three first downs before a fourth down sack by Andrew Robertson ended what would be the Panthers most productive drive of the night.
At that point Clarksville had four first downs. They got only one more.
Still, the Panthers forced a Bearcat punt on which Carson Ray managed only 9 yards, but on the next play Anthony McKesson, who already had a sack to his credit, forced a fumble that Noah Reyes recovered at midfield.
Ray bolted 50 yards the next play and it was 14-0 after the second of Gavin Kent’s four straight point after conversion kicks.
An interception by Hesson gave the Bearcats the ball back 94 seconds later and it took just five plays to pad the lead to 21-0 as Dobbs took a handoff 42 yards for a touchdown with 4:03 left in the half.
A possession later Schlinker and the Bearcats drove to the Panther 14 but ran out of downs when Schlinker was unable to connect with Gabe Fennell on a fourth down pass — neither team completed a pass in the game.
Clarksville forced a quick three-and-punt to start the second half and got a break when Ray had to chase down a snap that sailed over his head. Ray managed to get a punt away which rolled dead two yards short of the line of scrimmage.
With Cam Brasher recording one of the 14 tackles for a loss by the Bearcats in the game the Panthers went quietly, turning the ball over on downs at the Bearcat 36.
Brasher totalled 2.5 stops for a loss, as did Robertson. McKesson and Cort Mizell had two each and Reyes led the way with three behind the line.
The Bearcats would next turn the ball over at Clarksville’s 25 but McKesson would force his second fumble, this one recovered by Ian Suttles, and the Bearcats had the ball back at heir 49.
Ray got 3 yards, Hesson 43 and Ray the final 5 and it was 28-0 with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
Hesson finished with seven carries for 94 yards and Ray had the two touchdowns and 117 yards on 14 attempts.
The Bearcats had a chance to enact the mercy rule before the quarter ended because Dalton Tatum picked off an overthrown pass on the next Panther snap.
Instead, a penalty and a sack of Schlinker induced a Ray punt which was downed at the Panther 1.
Brasher threw Nicolas Buckner down in the end zone on the next play for a safety and a 30-0 lead with 11:46 to play.
Elliott, Fennell, Ethan Wooldridge and Colton Ritchie handled the rushing attack the rest of the way and Ty Goff would complete the game under center.
For the night the Bearcats called on 10 ball carriers with all finishing with positive yardage and a combined 351 yards.
Clarksville meanwhile managed 106 total yards with Xavier Holland accounting for 61 yards.
This week the Bearcats will travel to Ozark to face a Hillbilly team picked to win Conference 4A-4. Ozark did not play in Week Zero and will be opening its season Friday.