FORT SMITH -- Russellville never wavered from its game plan and was rewarded with a big second half, scoring five touchdowns to pull away from Fort Smith Southside 48-27 Friday night at Rowland Stadium.
The Cyclones (2-0) scored on five of its first six possessions in the second half turning a close game into a runaway in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Mavericks (0-2) 21-0 in the final period.
"We felt like we could run the ball like we wanted to, but then we made stupid penalties that took us to second-and-long and we were unable to keep running the ball," Russellville Coach David Wheeler said. "We just kept rotating the three backs and keep pounding the ball behind that offensive line."
Southside (0-2) led 20-14 at halftime as quarterback David Sorg finished the first half 11-of-14 passing for 177 yards and three touchdowns. Dmitri Lloyd had five catches for 55 yards and a touchdown while Kent Carlisle's two catches in the half were touchdown passes of 78 and 6 yards.
The Southside defense even had a late stand in the first half, stopping the Cyclones on a fourth and 2 at the Maverick 31 with a 5-yard loss on a screen pass with 31 seconds left in the half.
But Russellville's offense just about kept the Southside offense off the field in the final two quarters, gaining 238 yards (144 rushing, 94 passing).
The Cyclones opened the second half with an 80-yard, 12-play drive capped by Benjamin Haulmark's 9-yard keeper to retake the lead at 21-20 with 6 minutes, 36 seconds left in the third quarter.
After a short Southside punt gave Russellville the ball at the Maverick 45, quarterback Gavin Graham ran a quarterback draw, broke two tackles and scored from 36 yards out for a 28-20 lead with 4:42 left in the third quarter.
"This is where Gavin's is the X-factor for us," Wheeler said. "He is a kid that has not played quarterback since he was a freshman in high school. He has great feet, is athletic and can make guys miss. What he cannot do with his arms he can do with his legs. He is starting to get a feel for when he can run. The more he does that, the more dangerous he can become."
Southside, though, rallied once again as Sorg capped a 66-yard drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Amari Tucker to get the Mavs to within 28-27 late in the third quarter.
From that point on, the Cyclones dominated on both sides of the ball.
After an unsportsmanlike penalty kept the next Russellville drive alive, Grant converted a third-down with a 27-yard run to the Southside 7. Tracy Daniels scored from the 9 and the Cyclones were back in control 35-27 with 11:37 left in the game.
The Russellville defense stiffened, ending two Maverick drives on downs, then getting an interception by Shane Bucher that led to a score.
After the second defensive stop, Daniels finished off a 40-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run for a 41-27 lead. Two plays after Bucher's interception, Damon Donoho capped the scoring with a 8-yard touchdown with 3:02 left.