Bearcats run for 342 yards in win over Gravette.
With Carson Ray nursing a knee injury, Grant Rodatz slid to fullback for the second half in Gravette Friday night.
Rodatz, a senior, had had exactly one 4-yard carry in the first half Friday night. He finished with 14 carries for 72 yards. Six of his second half carries resulted in a Bearcat first down for an offense that had three possessions of over five minutes in the half.
Two of the possessions ended in touchdowns and the third was the final 5:48 of the game. For the night the Bearcas had a three-to-one time of possession advantage running 73 plays to Gravette’s 36.
The Bearcats (1-1) had held a 7-0 lead at the half but had missed on two other scoring opportunities.
Ethan Dobbs returned the second half opening kickoff to the Bearcat 43-yard line and 12 plays later Mike Hesson scored his first touchdown of the season on a 3-yard carry to make it 13-0. Austin Dobbs’ point after kick was wide.
Rodatz had two more first down pickups, including a 7-yard run that moved the ball to the 3.
It wouldn’t be his last. Hesson ran for 74 yards on 16 carries and scored two touchdowns.
Before Hesson’s second touchdown run the Lions (0-2) had cut the lead to 13-7 on a 45-yard Tajae White pass to Brady Moorman on a drive that took only three plays. Florian Aufdenblatten’s added the PAT.
Hesson’s second 3-yard touchdown run capped a drive that took 7:22 and 16 plays to complete. Rodatz converted a fourth down on one of his three first down carries on the drive. Quarterback Brandon Ulmer hit Ethan Dobbs for a two point conversion to make it 21-7 with 6:52 to play.
Two plays after the kickoff a late hit call moved the Lions to their 41 on the ensuing drive but a play later Tajae White was picked off by Trent Wooldridge, who took the interception back 45 yards for a touchdown and in the span of 29 seconds the lead had grown by 15 points to 28-7.
Gravette answered when Austin O’Brien went 8 yards for a touchdown with 5:48 remaining but Aufdenblatten’s PAT try was wide.
O’Brien ran for 82 yards and the touchdown but did most of his damage on the defensive side of the ball with 13 solo and 10 assisted tackles for the Lions. Three of the stops were for negative yardage.
Aufdenblatten’s onside kick try bounced out of bounds at the Bearcat 37.
Four first downs later, the final one coming when the Lions jumped off side on what would have been a fourth-and-3, the Bearcats were in victory formation.
The Bearcat defense forced a three-and-punt to start the game and the Bearcats scored in nine plays. Ulmer ran for the first 37 yards of the drive and accounted for 50 yards of the drive but it was Ray taking it in from the 2 and Austin Dobbs adding the extra point.
Ulmer would lead the 342-yard rushing attack for the Bearcats with 21 carries for 117 yards. Ray had 10 carries for 39 yards before leaving the game and having his knee examined.
The next five possessions ended in punts before the Bearcats drove to the Lion 11-yard and had a first down. After a block in the back, a sack and an intentional grounding penalty it was fourth-and-40 from the 41.
Following another Andrew Robertson punt the Bearcat defense got its first turnover of the game when Marcus Nichols caused a fumble that Rodatz recovered at the Lion 31.
The Bearcats would reach the Lion 13 before running out of downs with 1:06 left in the first half.
The Bearcats will close out the nonconference season Friday with a trip to Vilonia. The Eagles won the 2016 meeting, 24-20 in a game that was played after an almost 90-minute halftime/weather break.
The Class 5A Eagles are 1-1 after a 47-27 loss to Pottsville and a season opening 29-18 win over Green County Tech.