Senior running back DJ Smith's 5-yard touchdown run with 7:11 left in the second quarter gave Sylvan Hills all the Bears needed for a 7-0 quarterfinal victory over Little Rock Parkview in the Class 6A playoffs at Blackwood Field in Sherwood on Friday night.
"I'm so proud of these seniors," said Chris Hill, who is in his first year as Sylvan Hills' head coach.
Despite the game's lack of points, big plays and near misses highlighted the game throughout. The Patriots had two chances late, driving deep into Sylvan Hills territory each time, only to come up short on both possessions.
An illegal block reversed a 43-yard completion from Parkview senior quarterback Landon Rogers to senior receiver Fawad Raja that would have put Parkview at the Sylvan Hills' 2. The drive ended with senior Shajuan Esteen's interception near the goal line with 3:15 left.
Parkview (8-2) got the ball back with 2:08 to play, and after a 17-yard punt return by Rogers, the Patriots' started their final drive at the Bears' 33.
Senior defensive end Sincere Houston and junior Mathew Spencer combined for a sack that had the Patriots facing a fourth-and-16 from the 37. Junior running back James Jointer was held to a 6-yard run on the next play.
Sylvan Hills (9-3) will host Lake Hamilton in the semifinal round next Friday.
"When you get down into the red zone three or four times and you don't score, you don't deserve to win," Parkview Coach Brad Bolding said. "We got to learn to battle. We did everything we needed to do defensively to win this game, but we didn't take care of our business on offense."
"To shut out a team of their caliber is quite an accomplishment," Hill said. "Parkview is a very good football team on both sides of the ball. To hold those guys to zero points, hats off to our defense."
Rogers rushed 20 times for 101 yards and completed 3 of 7 passes for 45 yards, but threw two interceptions, the first of which helped set up Smith's touchdown.
Senior safety Kennan Hunter grabbed that one to put Sylvan Hills at the Parkview 37. Runs of 22 and 23 yards by senior Taevion Cunningham and junior Xavior Okafor, respectively, put Sylvan Hills close. Cunningham carried 7 yards on 4th-and-2 from the 12, and Smith scored on the next play.
"I just knew I had to get that one," Smith said.
"DJ's really done a good job," Hill said. "He's just so tough."
Smith rushed for 96 yards on 24 carries.
"Sylvan Hills, they got a great team," Bolding said. "They got a great team. They may win it all."