SPRINGDALE -- With the game's outcome very much hanging in the balance, Springdale Har-Ber threw up a stone wall and held Bentonville West out of the end zone from inside the Har-Ber 2 on four consecutive plays to preserve a 10-point lead.
That stand propelled Har-Ber to a 33-17 victory Friday night at Wildcat Stadium in 7A-West Conference action. After starting the season 0-4, the Wildcats have now won three in a row.
"That really boosted our confidence right there," Har-Ber senior outside linebacker Will Haney said about the stand. "We're just going out there and playing for each other, and that makes us stronger as a whole."
Haney said the defense has adopted the slogan "NADY" -- which stands for "not a dang yard." The Wildcats didn't give up much more than that in the second half, holding Bentonville West scoreless after giving up 17 in the first half.
The game featured a host of momentum-changing plays, but none was bigger than the goal-line stand, said Har-Ber Coach Chris Wood.
"I thought our defensive staff did a great job at halftime with some adjustments," he said. "Our kids have a lot of heart and soul. They have a lot of fight in them. I really like our defense, the passion, and the energy they play with, and I thought they really displayed that on that goal-line stand.
"That was the game right there."
Har-Ber (3-4, 3-1 7A-West) took the early lead, but West tied the score 17-17 by scoring on back-to-back possessions late in the second half. The Wolverines (4-3, 2-1) took a 14-10 lead by driving 80 yards, with a Dalton McDonald 48-yard completion to Stephen Dyson setting up Carlos Hall's short touchdown run with 6:13 left in the first half. A Konner Brown field goal with 22 seconds left to make it 17-17.
On the ensuing kickoff, Har-Ber's Lane Reiter returned the kick 70 yards to the West 27. With five seconds left in the half, sophomore kicker Christian Ramirez booted a 44-yard field goal to give the Wildcats a 20-17 halftime lead.
The Har-Ber defense set the tone for the second half on the Wolverines' opening possession. Although West managed a big 25-yard pass from McDonald to Carson Morgan, the Wildcats held the Wolverines near midfield to force the first punt of the game.
Starting from their own 18, the Wildcats drove 82 yards in 9 plays. Hudson Brewer's 6-yard run with 6:27 left in the third quarter gave Har-Ber a 27-17 lead.
From there, Har-Ber's defense did the rest, coming up with the big plays that helped turn West away and earn a big win for potential playoff seeding, Wood said.
"This was a huge win because of how everything is set up this year," Wood said, "especially with teams not being able to play all their conference games. The tiebreakers will go to total conference wins, so the more wins you can get under your belt, the better off you're going to be when you get into seeding for the playoffs."
Har-Ber's defense not only pitched a second-half shutout, but it also held West to just 94 yards on the ground.
Har — Brewer 1 run (Ramirez kick), 4:53.
West — Miller 9 run (Brown kick), 11:37.
Har — FG Ramirez 27, 8:46.
West — Hall 2 run (Brown kick), 6:13.
Har — Fender 51 pass from McClendon (Ramirez kick), 5:09.
West — FG Brown 23, :22.
Har — FG Ramirez 44, :00.
Har — Brewer 6 run (Ramirez kick), 6:27.
Har — McClendon 11 run (Kick failed), 4:22.