By Paul Glover
By Paul Glover
SPECIAL TO THE COMMERCIAL
BATESVILLE — Turnovers and fourth-down stops keyed a 21-0 surge for the Batesville Pioneers as they defeated the White Hall Bulldogs 47-26 in the Class 5A state semifinals in Pioneer Stadium on Friday night.
With the score tied at 12 midway through the second quarter, Batesville linebacker Joey Rodriguez intercepted a Nathan Lee pass and returned it 12 yards to the Batesville 47. Seven plays later, Pioneer junior tailback Jordan Childress scored from 4 yards out and Batesville wouldn’t trail again.
On White Hall’s ensuing possession, the Pioneers stopped running back Tim Cook a yard short on a fourth-and-3 play from the Batesville 45. Six plays later, Childress scored on another 4-yard run.
The Pioneers led 26-12 at halftime.
It took the home team just 22 seconds to gain the three-score lead. On a second-and-10 play on the White Hall 22, Batesville tackle Drew Moore stripped the ball out of Lee’s hands while sacking him, and a Pioneer end scooped up the football and ran it in from 15 yards out.
The Bulldogs and Pioneers matched scores from there on.
Cook finished the night with 107 yards and two TDs on 18 carries. Lee completed 12 of 29 passes for 214 yards, but he also threw three interceptions. Warren completed three of three passes for 61 yards and a TD.
Jeremy Sprinkle led the Bulldogs with six catches for 111 yards and a TD. Percy Arnold added five catches for 77 yards.
The Pioneers were led by Childress, who rushed for 265 yards and three TDs on 27 carries.
The Bulldogs finished 9-4. The Pioneers improved to 11-2 and will face the Greenwood Bulldogs in the 5A title game next Saturday in War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Greenwood, the defending state champion, defeated Camden Fairview 34-31 in Camden in the other semifinal.