Evan Schlinker threw Michael Hesson a 56-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the game Friday night and the Booneville Bearcats went on to a 47-12 win at Cedarville.
Besides giving the Bearcats (10-0, 7-0 Conference 3A-1) a 6-0 lead, the touchdown pass tied Schlinker with the late Al Bradley for the most in a season by a Bearcat quarterback with 12. Schlinker would break the tie later in the first quarter.
But first, Cedarville (4-6, 3-4) would string together four first downs before an errant pitch hit the ground and Ian Suttles recovered it for the Bearcats at their 36-yard line. The play had started at the 23.
After getting five yards from the Pirates, then giving them back, the Bearcats had moved only to the 39 and were facing third-and-7 when Andrew Robertson took a reverse 61 yards for a touchdown to make it 12-0. Carson Ray ran for a 2-point conversion and a 14-0 lead.
After forcing a Pirate punt the Bearcats got 32- and 15-yard pickups from Schlinker and Ray on successive plays and Schlinker then hit Ethan Dobbs, who avoided a defender and went 17 yards for a touchdown to make it 20-0 and give Schlinker his 13th touchdown pass of the season.
On the ensuing possession Pirate freshman Darryl Kattich carried three straight downs for 27 yards to move the Pirates to the Bearcat 34 and Tate LaRue took it in from there makig it 20-6 with 11:21 left in the first half.
A 10-play, 60-yard answered the Pirate score. Ray scored from the 2 with 7:12 left in the half to make it 26-6 but a two point pass attempt was incomplete.
Ray ran for 96 yards on 13 carries for the Bearcats, who had 335 rushing yards on just 37 carries.
Cedarville crossed into Bearcat territory again on their next possession before a fourth down sack of Dylan Murray by Ethan Pirraglia gave the Bearcats the ball back at their 43 with 2:04 to go before the break.
Aided by a roughing the passer penalty that wiped out an interception the Bearcats made it 32-6 on a 21-yard touchdown run by Ray with 1:04 left in the half.
A personal foul penalty on another failed 2-point conversion meant the Bearcats kicked off from their 25 and after a 14-yard return by Kelin Mitchell the Pirates were at the Bearcat 46.
Two Mitchell carries moved the ball to the Bearcat 15 and Murray hit Nick Moore for a touchdown to make it 32-12 with 17 seconds to go in the half.
A 32-yard run by Andrew Robertson — the junior picked up 116 yards on just five carries — got the Bearcats to the Pirate 24 with a second to play in the half but Schlinker’s last play pass was knocked down.
Cedarville’s first three plays of the second half netted three yards and, after a time out, the Pirates still opted to go after a first down.
However, on the play, Murray was picked off Gabe Fennell who took the interception back 68 yards for a touchdown and Gavin Kent, who had misfired twice, added the point after to make it 39-12.
After a punt exchange the Bearcats used a 43-yard run by Dobbs and a second 2-point conversion run by Ray to make it 47-12 with 45 seconds left in the third quarter, starting the sportsmanship rule.
With the clock ticking away the Pirates repeatedly handed off to LaRue, the senior, until he fumbled with Devin Catlett recovering for the Bearcats.
LaRue picked up 106 yards on 20 carries in his final game.
The Pirates needed a win or a Manfield loss but got neither and finished sixth in the conference and will miss the playoffs.
With Ty Goff twice moving the chains on fourth down runs, the Bearcats were able to run out the remaining 7:37 of the game.
The Bearcats will open the Class 3A playoffs at home Friday night by taking on Baptist Prep. The Eagles (4-5-1) are the five seed from the 3A-4.