The Booneville Bearcats made a break, then got another in the first five minutes of the game in Dardanelle Friday night but after that the Sand Lizards, for the most part, controlled the game on the way to a 17-7 win.
On its initial possession the Sand Lizards on a fourth-and-1 at the Bearcat 49-yard line and Chance Pence and Noah Reyes stopped Dakota Rowland for no gain.
The Bearcats (4-4, 3-2 Conference 4A-4) got one first down but were facing fourth-and-6 when Ulmer was picked off by Rowland, who then fumbled and Hayden Fennell recovered for the Bearcats at the Dardanelle 24.
Four downs later Ulmer was picked off again, this time by Caynan Taylor.
Ulmer would throw for 137 yards, hitting on 8-of-21 passes on the night but would suffer four interceptions.
Starting from their own 22, the Sand Lizards scored in just five plays. Carter Chandler went in motion, took a pass from Elyas Carter and escaped for a 46-yard touchdown and with Temo Martinez’s point after it was 7-0 with 5:42 left in the opening quarter.
Carter threw almost nothing deep but was 19-of-27 for 252 yards and would later throw for a second touchdown.
Martinez sent the kickoff into the end zone and the Bearcats went three and out with an illegal shift penalty and after a Noah Gregory punt Dardanelle started its next possession at the Bearcat 48.
The Sand Lizards (6-2, 4-1) got one first down but when Carter and Chandler could only get 4 on a third-and-10 Martinez came on to try a 48-yard field goal. The kick was long enough but wide to keep it 7-0 with 1:20 left in the quarter.
Three plays ended the quarter and Gregory was on to punt to start the second quarter and the Sand Lizards started from their own 40.
Four short catches and runs by Carter and a 19-yard run by Carter got the Sand Lizards to the Bearcat 6 where, on fourth down, Martinez drilled a 23-yard field goal to make it 10-0 with 8:13 to play in the half.
One first down was all the Bearcats could muster before having to give the ball back but the Sand Lizards reciprocated the punt, from field goal position with 2:07 left in the half.
Starting from their 34 the Bearcats got a first down on a 10-yard Ulmer to Ethan Dobbs pass and two downs later Ulmer hit Dobbs in front of the Bearcat sideline, Dobbs avoided two defenders and ended up going 51 yards for a touchdown with 37 seconds to go in the half. With Austin Dobbs’ point after it was 10-7.
Fennell returned the second half opening kickoff to the Bearcat 30 but the Bearcats again netted no yards and Gregory was called on for another of his six punts.
Dardanelle went three-and-out as well with Martinez punting from the tee. Ulmer returned the kick to the 35 but a personal foul penalty – one of only two penalties assessed against the Bearcats – pushed them back to the 20.
Gregory’s best punt of the night pushed the Sand Lizards back to their 28 with 4:50 left in the quarter but on a third-and-12, Carter and Rowland connected on a screen pass that went for 37 yards to the Bearcat 12.
Rowland, who managed just 24 yards on the ground, ran for 3 and Ulmer broke up a pass before intercepting Carter at the 5 and taking it back to the Bearcat 10 with 2:56 left in the third.
A sack helped force a punt that wound up being a 10-yard net after a 17-yard return by Caynan Taylor and Dardanelle was at the Bearcat 25 with 54 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Bearcats would dodge another threat when they forced Dardanelle into a fourth down and Martinez missed a 24-yard try with 11:06 to play.
Ulmer hit Ethan Dobbs for 10 the next play – Ethan Dobbs had five catches for 87 yards – but Rowland later intercepted Ulmer for a second time at the Bearcat 38 with 9:38 to go.
After two carries by Carter, who ran for 99 yards on 16 carries, Carter hit Tate Vestal with another short pass that became a 32-yard touchdown and with Martinez’s PAT it was 17-7 with 8:32 to go.
Ulmer and Trent Wooldridge combined for a 37-yard pickup to start the next possession but four plays later Jose Parra broke up a fourth down pass with 6:50 left.
Committing three penalties on the next possession Dardanelle kept the ball until the 1:30 mark with the Bearcats taking over at their own 14 after a short runback on another field goal resembling punt.
Ulmer was ultimately intercepted a fourth time by Taylor and Dardanelle was in victory formation.