[Nathan Wright, Special to ETSN.fm]

ARP – Friday night’s Halloween clash between District 8-3A Division II rivals Arp and Elysian Fields didn’t disappoint, for the first 24 minutes.

The two squads, with matching 4-1 district records and battling to clinch second place and a playoff berth at Bill Herrington Tiger Stadium, were almost equal both statistically and on the scoreboard at halftime.

The Tigers then turned up their offense and outscored the Yellowjackets 35-13 in the second half en route to a 56-27 victory. 

Arp improved to 7-1 overall and 5-1 in district, clinching a playoff berth and second place in the league behind state-ranked Waskom. Elysian Fields dropped to 6-3 and 4-2, but can still make the playoffs with a win in its final regular season game against Winona next Friday.

“In the first half, we came out kind of feeling them out,” Arp head coach Dale Irwin said. “They are a good football team. We had to get in a rhythm and the flow of the game. We had to see what they were going to attack us with offensively. We knew they were going to throw the football. They are good at throwing the football. We had to get our feet wet early.”

Arp's Tyler Stewart caught a 21-yard touchdown pass in Friday's playoff clinching win. (Ray Jackson, ETSN.fm)

The teams traded blows in the first 24 minutes, with Arp scoring first on a three-yard run by quarterback Kayce Medlock with 9:05 to go. Elysian Fields answered four minutes later on a seven-yard run by Kyree Ratliffe to make it 8-6 in favor of Arp after the Tigers got a two-point conversion. The Yellowjackets failed to convert the two-point conversion after their first score.

Arp extended its lead on the first play of the second quarter, turning an Elysian Fields interception into six points on a nine-yard run by Marcalas Johnson. The Yellowjackets answered on their next drive when Ratliffe caught a 20-yard pass from Tramell Hudson to tie the game at 14.

The Tigers retook the lead with just over a minute to go on a 24-yard run by Medlock. With just seconds remaining in the half, an interception by Arp, the third Elysian Fields turnover of the game, ended the drive and the half with the Tigers ahead 21-14.

“(The three turnovers) were very big,” Irwin said “It allowed us to go into halftime seven points up. It could have been tied or them up by seven points, so they were very big and we always stress turnovers to our kids. They did a good job stripping the ball and getting in the throwing lanes when they had to.”

For two quarters, the game looked like it would be close. Less than two minutes into the second half, it did not.

Johnson broke free for a 65-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half. After forcing a punt, Arp scored in one play again. This time, Medlock and DeMarcus Mauldin hooked up for an 85-yard touchdown to make it 35-14.

Five minutes later, Medlock connected with Mauldin again for a 21-yard score for a 42-14 lead and with 1:29 to play in the third quarter.

Medlock scored on a 76-yard run to put the Tigers ahead 49-14.

“We are kind of known for (long strikes),” Irwin said. “We have some good players. We have some fast kids that get after it. We really would have liked to have some longer drives, but if we can score, we’ll take it. We have some kids that can play and can go and our offensive line did a great job tonight.”

The Yellowjackets scored just before the end of third to cut the Arp lead to 49-21, but the Tigers answered with a 21-yard pass from Medlock to Tyler Stewart to go ahead 56-21. It was the fifth touchdown in as many drives in the second half for Arp.

Elysian Fields managed one more touchdown with just over a minute left in the game.

For Arp, Medlock completed 8-of-14 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 119 yards on six carries and scoring three times. Johnson rushed for 184 yards on 19 carries and scored twice.

Hudson completed 16-of-31 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns on Elysian Field's side, but he also threw three interceptions. Ratliffe rushed for 78 yards on 23 carries and scored once while also catching a touchdown pass.

Arp travels to Frankston for its regular season finale.

“We feel pretty good,” Johnson said. “We just have to come out and dominate against Frankston and get to the playoffs.”

Marcalas Johnson scored scored twice in Arp's home win Friday against Elysian Fields. (Ray Jackson, ETSN.fm)