SHERIDAN — The final stats weren’t overly flattering, and even the score didn’t accurately tell the whole story.

SHERIDAN — The final stats weren’t overly flattering, and even the score didn’t accurately tell the whole story.


At the end of the day, though, Pine Bluff walked away with a 49-28 win over Sheridan on Friday at Yellowjacket Stadium.


The victory really was all that mattered for the Zebras (7-2, 6-0 in 6A-South), although they will be happy it came from a good performance, before their biggest game of the season to date against Benton.


The Panthers (8-0-1, 6-0) will visit Jordan Stadium on Thursday night with an unbeaten record. The winner earns the 6A-South title outright, although both teams have already clinched first-round byes in the 6A state playoffs.


The stats and score were influenced greatly by the second half, which featured most often Sheridan starters versus Pine Bluff’s second string. The Zebras ended up with a slight advantage in total offense (358-354) but were basically doubled up in time of possession (30:49 to 17:11).


"We knew when we subbed on defense, we were going to have trouble," said Zebra head coach Bobby Bolding. "Because we spent the whole week with our ones, trying to get them to understand what to do. We didn’t rep the other guys; we didn’t have time and it showed.


"We felt like we could get a lead and we could hold on, and that’s what we did."


Pine Bluff took a 42-8 lead into halftime. The gap could have been wider, but three touchdowns for Pine Bluff were called back due to penalties. Two of the drives still eventually ended in touchdowns, but one at the end of the first half ended with a missed field goal.


"I thought we did a good job tonight with having three touchdowns called back," Bolding said. "I’m not going to comment on that. We had three touchdowns called back. It should have been the mercy rule in effect, but, hey, it is what it is."


The second half belonged to Sheridan backup quarterback Brandon Bennett, who finished with two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns. Three of the senior’s four scores came after the break, and his 3-yarder had the Yellowjackets (2-7, 1-5) within 42-22 with 10 minutes left.


"I thought he came in and did a great job," said Sheridan coach Louis Campbell. "He played some the first half, and played all of the second half. Brandon focuses and concentrates. He’s a good football player. He played well tonight."


Despite the solid performance over the final 24 minutes, Campbell was hesitant to say his team could carry that over into next week’s game at Texarkana. The contest versus the Razorbacks will be for the 6A-South’s final spot in the playoffs.


"Bottom line was it was against their second team," he said. "You know, if they had kept their first team out there, it would probably look just like the first half. But Bobby Bolding’s got a lot of class, and I appreciate what he did.


"And you know, yeah, it may help us feel better but it’s not real, because it wasn’t against their starters."


While Campbell and his squad face a tough time trying to reach the playoffs, Bolding and his group head into next week’s game knowing they’ve already achieved one goal. The Zebras have secured an all-important bye, but they will be looking for a conference championship against the Panthers.


Campbell has faced both teams in the past three weeks, and he said Pine Bluff is as good as any team Sheridan’s faced this year.


"I’d say they’re at the top (of the conference)," he said. "If they aren’t, I don’t know who is."