Photo: Richey Miller, clearchoicephoto.com
Halloween is still a few weeks away, but Fayetteville pulled out a few tricks Friday night at Harmon Stadium, treating Purple Dog fans to a 38-14 victory over the Springdale Red Bulldogs.
Fayetteville’s offensive brain trust called a fake field goal, the hook and lateral and a bevy of nifty ball-handling fakes by quarterback Mitch Marshall to keep Springdale off balance after the first quarter’s slow start.
The ballgame was tight halfway through the third quarter, but Fayetteville put the game away with three unanswered touchdowns.
“I’m very proud of our kids,” Fayetteville coach Daryl Patton said. “They came out competed and played with a great deal of emotion. I told the kids, you can throw everything out in the Battle of the Bulldogs. It’s going to be a dogfight and that’s what it was through four quarters.”
The Red Bulldogs battled, but the game took its toll with Springdale starting quarterback Fuller Chandler going down to injury in the second quarter and star running back Deandre Murray going to the sideline in the third quarter.
“It’s the nature of the game,” Springdale coach Shane Patrick said. “When Fuller went down, we went to Drake [Wymer]. I thought he did a fantastic job. We didn’t limit the playbook at all. He handled himself well.”
Patrick thought his Bulldogs played hard, particularly when they punched in a touchdown on a run by Terry Mounce to pull within 17-14 with 5:54 left in the third quarter. But then the game began to slip away from Springdale.
“It’s one of those things that happens when you get down to your third- or fourth-team running back at the end,” Patrick said. “It’s not the same when Deandre is not out there, but I’m proud of our kids. It was a street fight, and we battled right up to the end. They just got up one more time than we did.”
Patrick did not know the extent of the injuries to Murray (ankle), offensive guard Edwin Espinoza (knee) and Chandler (blow to the head) after the game.
The victory moves Fayetteville to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in 7A-West play. The Red Bulldogs fell to 3-2, and 1-1 in league play. Springdale now leads Fayetteville in the series 64-39-13, but Fayetteville has won 8 of the last 11 meetings.
Marshall, who went 14 of 25 for 187 yards and three touchdowns, opened the scoring with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Dennis (7 receptions for 88 yards and two touchdowns) for a 7-0 lead with 11:55 left in the first half.
The Red ’Dogs struck back to tie the game at 7 when Chandler caught Fayetteville’s secondary peaking inside and lofted an easy 35-yard touchdown toss to Murray, who had 113 yards on 20 carries before leaving the game early in the third quarter.
After runs of 18 and 6 yards by Brayden Cook, who gained 94 yards on 12 carries, Marshall completed four consecutive passes — two to Dennis and two to C.J. O’Grady, who had 5 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown — to give Fayetteville a 14-0 lead at the half.
“I thought Mitch played a very good game,” Patton said. “Brayden Cook, what a warrior. He’s got a bad knee but he was out here running hard. He went down. I don’t think it’s bad. As for C.J. and Jordan, we expect them to make plays like they did.
Cal Conway banged in a 22-yard field goal for a 17-7 Fayetteville lead in the third quarter, but Springdale answered to pull within 17-14 with both Murray and Chandler on the bench. That, however, was the Red ’Dogs’ last hurrah.
After a 60-yard run by Cook, Marshall connected with Jase Rapert for a 23-yard touchdown pass to give Fayetteville a 24-14 lead with 4:52 left in the third.
With 8:23 left in the game, it appeared Fayetteville would attempt another field goal, but holder Dennis saw O’Grady uncovered on the far sideline and threw him a 27-yard touchdown pass for a 31-14 lead.
Patton said he had been holding off on the trick call from the beginning of the season.
“The other coaches make fun of me because the only input by me is the trick plays,” said Patton, who has delegated play calling to offensive coordinator Zac Clark. “It ended up being a good time, and it broke the game open.”
Patrick lamented that his team lost focus.
“Then they catch us with the hideout play,” Patrick said. “We didn’t check to the sideline like we are coached to do. All of sudden it’s an insurmountable deal.”
But Fayetteville wasn’t done. In the midst of battling for yardage Springdale backup quarterback Drake Wymer fumbled the ball, and it dropped into the hands of Fayetteville safety Dre Greenlaw. He raced 76 yards for a touchdown and the final margin.
“I don’t blame him at all on that fumble,” Patrick said. “He was making a heck of a run, but the defensive player made a heck of a play and squirted the ball out on him.
“It was a freak play. The ball pops out and drops right in probably their best defensive player’s hands. There is nobody who is going to catch him from there.”
Fayetteville plays at Rogers Heritage next Friday.
Score By Quarters
FAY: Marshall 18-yard pass to Dennis (kick good), 11:55.
SPR: Chandler 35-yard pass to Murray (kick good), 9:58.
FAY: Marshall 7-yard pass to Dennis (kick good), 2:40.
FAY: Conway 22-yard field goal, 10:10.
SPR: Mounce 1-yard run (kick good), 5:54
FAY: Marshall 25-yard pass to Rapert (kick good), 4:52.
FAY: Dennis 27-yard pass to O’Grady (kick good, 8:23.
FAY: Greenlaw 74-yard fumble return (kick good), 5:39.