Fayetteville snatched another state title Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium.
Fayetteville running back Javontae Smith (32) breaks away on a 31-yard touchdown run during the fourth quarter Saturday night. It was Smith’s second touchdown of the game.
Andrew Ellis (10) of Fayetteville and Dalton Douangdara (3) of Har-Ber reach for a pass Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, during the first half of the Class 7A state championship game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the game.
Joey Savin (12) of Fayetteville makes his third interception of the game over Trey Smith of Har-Ber Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, during the first half of the Class 7A state championship game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the game.
Fayetteville’s players celebrate after the Bulldogs beat Springdale Har-Ber in the Class 7A state championship game at War Memorial Stadium. The Bulldogs forced the Wildcats into six turnovers, with safety Joey Savin intercepting three passes, to capture their first state title since 2012.
Javontae Smith (left) of Fayetteville celebrates a touchdown against Har-Ber during the second half of Saturday’s Class 7A state championship game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the game.
Luke Rapert (22) of Fayetteville carries the ball ahead of Brady Patrick of Har-Ber during the first half of Saturday’s Class 7A state championship game.
The Bulldogs forced six turnovers on their way to a 28-7 victory over Springdale Har-Ber in the Class 7A state championship game in front of 6,989 in Little Rock.
Fayetteville's defense intercepted Springdale Har-Ber quarterback Fuller Chandler five times and recovered a fumble. The five interceptions tied a state finals record, matching Stuttgart in the 2002 AAAA final against Sylvan Hills and Shiloh Christian in the 2009 Class 4A final against Lonoke.
Senior free safety Joey Savin set a record for most interceptions by a player in a championship game with three. Savin earned the most outstanding player award.
It was a much different outcome from the previous meeting between the two teams almost two months ago when Fayetteville lost 47-43 at Springdale Har-Ber.
"To give up 47 the first matchup and seven the last time, that's a 40-point swing," Fayetteville Coach Daryl Patton said. "That's huge. They did a good job of creating pressure and getting to the quarterback."
It was Fayetteville's fourth football state title, all under Patton. The Bulldogs (12-2), the No. 3 seed from the 7A-West Conference, also won in 2007, 2011 and 2012.
Savin's first interception set up junior quarterback Taylor Powell's 12-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Drake Wymer to give Fayetteville a 7-0 lead with 10:25 left in the first quarter.
Har-Ber tied the game at 7-7 with 5:12 left in the quarter on senior Tali Nasilai's 8-yard touchdown run, which was set up by senior Luke Hannon's 51-yard run.
Fayetteville took a 14-7 lead when Luke Rapert scored from 45 yards out with 8:52 remaining in the first half. The senior running back broke five tackles on the play, and the Bulldogs led the rest of the way.
The Wildcats had an opportunity to tie the game before halftime but Chandler was intercepted for the fourth time, this time by junior free safety Andrew Ellis at the Har-Ber 45. Fayetteville was on the verge of going ahead by two possessions late in the first half, but Jon Fagg's 31-yard field goal attempt with three seconds remaining was wide left as the Fayetteville went into halftime with a 14-7 lead.
Senior running back Javontae Smith added two rushing touchdowns in the second half, running 19 yards for his first score with 55 seconds left in the third quarter to extend the Bulldogs' lead to 21-7. Luke Waller's fumble recovery of a bad snap by Har-Ber center Drew Dodson set up Smith's 31-yard touchdown run that made it 28-7 with 5:09 left.
Powell completed 15 of 25 passes for 175 yards and 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions for Fayetteville. Rapert rushed for 101 yards and 1 touchdown on 16 carries, while Smith added 97 yards and 2 touchdowns on 15 carries.
Chander, who passed for 1,992 yards and 28 touchdowns this season, completed 3 of 12 passes for 18 yards. Hannon, who rushed for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns on 46 carries in the first meeting against the Bulldogs, had 193 yards on 34 carries and but failed to score.
Har-Ber (11-2) was making its first state finals appearance since 2009, when it won its only Class 7A title. Saturday night's loss was Har-Ber's first to an instate team this season. The Wildcats lost 36-26 to Webb City, Mo., to open the season.
"We came up short tonight," Har-Ber Coach Chris Wood said. "You hate it in this moment because it's not a reflection of this season and what these kids accomplished, but we'll be back."
Saturday's game served as a bit of redemption for Powell and Fayetteville, which lost 24-21 to Bentonville in last season's state championship game after leading 21-17 with 3:06 left.
"We worked so hard for this," Powell said. "It all came together."
Fayetteville's victory might not have been the flashiest -- the Bulldogs came into the game averaging 51.4 points a game -- but that didn't matter to Patton.
"If you win, you're a state champion," Patton said. "For us to win and be the 2015 state champions, we're awfully proud of that."
Sports on 12/06/2015
Print Headline: Safety and sound