FAYETTEVILLE -- Fayetteville's defense took the battle out of the "Battle of the Bulldogs" with a dominating performance during Friday's 52-14 win against Springdale High at Harmon Field.
It was the Purple'Dogs' fourth straight win as they rallied together after a four-game losing skid. It clinches the league's third seed and a home game for the playoffs for Fayetteville (5-4, 4-2 7A-West), which wraps up the regular season at Van Buren next Friday. The Red'Dogs (5-4, 2-4) will play Rogers High for the No. 5 seed next week.
FAYETTEVILLE 52, SPRINGDALE HIGH 14
Fay — Gray 32 pass from Bowers (Richardson kick), 6:56
Fay — Conley 22 fumble (Richardson kick), 4:17
Fay — Flannigan 63 pass from Bowers (Richardson kick), :39
Fay — Nolen 17 run (Richardson kick), 11:15
Spr — Vaughn 38 run (Borosso kick), 7:18
Fay — Hinton 1 run (Richardson kick), 3:03
Fay — Mulinga 3 run (Richardson kick), 8:56
Fay — Hinton 2 run (Smith kick), 3:32
Spr — Robinson 29 pass from Hutchins (Borosso kick), 1:52
Fay — FG Smith 26, 4:35
"I've liked our team all year," said Fayetteville first-year coach Billy Dawson. "We get better every week. The guys are playing faster with a lot more confidence. You see it coming, you just hope it happens. And, boy, these guys have really come on.
"Our kids really played well tonight and really came out of the gate fast."
Seven sacks -- including two by Dotson Schaefer -- and three first-half turnovers allowed the Purple'Dogs to race out to a 28-0 lead despite running just eight offensive plays to that point. That's because of a quick-strike offense -- junior quarterback Darius Bowers completed four of his first five passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns -- and an opportunistic defense with the biggest play a 22-yard scoop-and-score by Keondre Conley off of Coleman Johnson's forced fumble.
"They're awesome," Dawson said. "Our defensive staff has done a really nice job with those guys. Our defensive front is really playing fast and physical. People have had trouble running the ball a little bit and now we're getting to the quarterback some. We had the scoop-and-score tonight ... I'm really excited about how fast they're playing."
Dawson also applauded the defense's endurance because they were on the field for the majority of the first quarter when Fayetteville needed just five offensive plays to build a 21-0 lead. Springdale quarterback Layne Hutchins didn't have much time to throw (Will Litzinger and Jay Burns intercepted passes in the first half) and the running game was largely ineffective because of the relentless pressure from the Purple'Dogs defensive line.
"Right out of the gate they're defensive line just did a great job," said Springdale coach Zak Clark, a Fayetteville High alum. "Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to those guys. They were very disruptive, especially in the first quarter."
Following a blocked field goal attempt on the Red'Dogs opening possession, Bowers connected with Cody Gray for a 32-yard touchdown pass. Gray, who slipped three tacklers on the touchdown, began the three-play drive with a 35-yard reception.
Conley's fumble recovery return for touchdown came on the Red'Dogs' next possession. Then, just two plays after another defensive stop for Fayetteville, Bowers hit Connor Flannigan in stride for a 63-yard touchdown strike.
"Offensively, we stressed all week, 'Hey, let's come out and jump on this thing early. Let's start fast,' and they did that tonight," Dawson said.
Sports on 10/28/2017
Print Headline: Fast start lifts Fayetteville over Springdale High