JONESBORO -- A Class 7A semifinalist a year ago, the Conway Wampus Cats have not missed a beat in 2018.
Conway (3-0) finished its nonconference schedule with a 37-16 victory over Jonesboro on Friday night at Cooksey-Johns Field.
The Wampus Cats piled up 388 yards -- 239 coming on the ground -- in their first road game of the season.
Senior running back Cary McClain rushed for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18 carries to lead Conway. McClain scored on runs of 9 and 4 yards.
Sophomore Bryce Bohannon had 68 yards on 13 carries.
Coach Keith Fimple, who is in his first year with the Wampus Cats after serving as an assistant coach at Springdale Har-Ber, was pleased with how well his team ran the ball Friday.
"That's part of our philosophy. We're going to run the football and get people in the box," Fimple said. "I was proud of them to do that for four quarters."
Conway led 17-10 at halftime thanks to junior Shane Smith's 98-yard kickoff return with 1:23 left in the second quarter. Smith's score came after Jonesboro tied the game at 10-10 with 1:37 left in the second quarter on sophomore quarterback Cross Jumper's 30-yard touchdown pass to senior running back Daniel Johnson.
"When that momentum switches, you have to get it back somehow," Fimple said. "It was a big play."
Sophomore Will Hogue extended Conway's lead to 20-10 with 7:17 left in the third quarter with a 31-yard field goal.
Jonesboro pulled within 20-16 with 3:05 left in the third quarter with Jumper's 17-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Tate Lutes in the back of the end zone, but senior Garrett Childers' extra-point attempt was blocked.
That was it for the Hurricane on Friday night.
Hogue kicked a 38-yard field goal to stretch the lead to 23-16 with 9:46 remaining. Then, McClain scored from 4 yards out with 6:34 remaining to make it 30-16. Senior defensive back Malik Benton's 45-yard interception return for a touchdown sealed Conway's victory with 1:40 to play.
The Wampus Cats got to work early, going 80 yards in 10 plays with McClain's 9-yard touchdown capping the drive with 8:39 left in the first quarter to put his team ahead 7-0.
Jonesboro cut the lead to 7-3 with 4:50 left in the quarter on Childers' 37-yard field goal.
Junior Riley White blocked Childers' punt at the Jonesboro 27, but Conway couldn't take advantage as Hogue's 47-yard field goal attempt was wide right.
Hogue rebounded later in the first half as he drilled a 41-yard field goal to give Conway a 10-3 lead with 2:42 left in the second quarter.
Jumper completed 9 of 21 passes for 208 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Lutes caught 4 passes for 97 yards and 1 touchdown to lead Jonesboro's receivers.
Special-teams miscues plagued Jonesboro's opportunity to stay in Friday's game, Coach Randy Coleman said.
"Conway did a good job," Coleman said. "Every time it seemed like we gained some momentum, we lost it and gave it right back. We cut the game close, we get a punt blocked. We scored to tie it 10-10, knowing we're going to get the ball back after halftime, we give up a kick return for a touchdown.
"We score, then we get the extra point blocked. Every time we got to where we felt, 'OK, we've got some momentum,' Conway snatched it right back from us. That's the sign of a good team."
Sports on 09/08/2018
Print Headline: Conway knew how to answer Jonesboro