Following a stop for no yardage on the Bearcats’ first drive Friday night, a Dover player informed the Bearcats the middle of the field was not going to be an option.
To a large degree the Pirates (4-2, 1-2 Conference 4A-4) backed up the claim, even recording a safety for the game’s first points.
But offensive coordinator Doc Crowley turned Brandon Ulmer loose and three touchdown passes in a span of less than six minutes the Bearcats (5-1, 3-0) were in command on the way to a 41-2 win.
Ulmer threw for 195 yards on 9-of-11 passing in the first half and had increased that total to 229 yard on 10-of-14 before being injured at the end of a defensive play.
With Evan Schlinker hitting a pair of high percentage passes as well, the Bearcats would throw for a single game school record 255 yards. Lewis Yarborough’s 236-yard record had been set in 1966, two seasons before Bearcat Stadium opened.
The passing game numbers didn’t start out that well. Ulmer’s first pass was out of Grant Rodatz’s reach and the Beracats punted.
That started a streak of three straight possessions ending in punts before the Pirates moved from their 35-yard line to the Bearcat 35 and Isaac Talkington broke free inside the 20 but Ulmer forced a fumble that Carson Ray recovered.
When the quarter ended the Bearcats were inches from a first down but Rodatz was thrown for a loss to start the second quarter and Tommy Harper punted again.
Dover coach Greg Smith took a time out with 10:32 left in the half then opted for a Justin Loveless punt on a fourth-and-7 and Christopher Bewley’s punt rolled dead at the Bearcat 2.
Ray was dropped in the end zone by Ethan Bryant and Chandler Signor on the next play and Dover had a 2-0 lead.
Dover started from the 50 after the kickoff and the Bearcat defense surrendered on first down before Ray made a stop of Justice McMinn for a 3-yard loss on a third-and-6 and Loveless pinned the Bearcats at the 5 again with 7:16 left in the first half.
Ulmer rolled to his right and, from the end zone, hit Ethan Dobbs for 11 yards to the 16 for some breathing room. On the next play Dobbs took a shovel pass and went 84 yards for a touchdown.
Kicking with a backup holder – four players sat out the first half for disciplinary reasons – Austin Dobbs’ PAT try failed.
Cort Mizell was in on two tackles on the next possession and the Pirates punted to the Bearcat 49.
Ulmer connected with Ian Suttles for a yard, then Trent Wooldridge for 13 and before the drive ended hit Ethan Dobbs for 29 more and Austin Dobbs for 10 and the touchdown in the front corner of the end zone and it was 12-2. The PAT try failed again.
The Bearcats got the ball back with 1:35 left in the half after another of the eight Pirate punts.
Ulmer hit Wooldridge – four catches 67 yards – for 8, then scrambled for 10, hit Wooldridge for 13 more and dropped a screen pass to Ray, who took it 28 yards for a touchdown.
Dover was penalized for having 12 men on the field to wipe out an interception on a two point conversion try so Ray bulled his way through the middle for the extra two and a 20-2 lead with 49 seconds left in the half.
The Bearcats had been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for the second time in the game on the drive.
Before it ended Dover had three unsportsmanlike flags of their own and both teams also drew a personal foul flag. Both teams had eight penalties with the Bearcats infractions going for 76 yards and Dover’s for 66.
Dover forced a three-and-out to start the second half and the Bearcats did the same on the first Pirate possession of the half.
After Ulmer returned a punt to the Dover 24, the Bearcats were flagged for holding so Umer hit Wooldridge for 34 yards to the 1 and Ray scored from there. Ulmer hit Mike Hesson for the extra two and a 28-2 lead with 8:43 left in the quarter.
An Anthony McKesson sack induced a Dover punt on the ensuing possession, but it was on that Pirate possession that Ulmer was the victim of a Pirate player rolling into him from behind and he left the game.
With the sophomore Schlinker at the controls, the Bearcats drove to the Pirate 2 but turned the ball over at the 1.
Dover moved out to its 39 but Wooldridge broke up a fourth down pass with :01 left in the third quarter.
The Bearcats turned the short field into a bigger lead with Schlinker hitting Ethan Dobbs – four catches 134 yards – for 11 and Hesson for 15 on shovel passes before a second 1-yard touchdown run by Ray. Austin Dobbs hit the PAT for a 35-2 lead.
Ray was limited to 29 yards on 15 carries.
A possession later the Austin Dobbs had a 36 yard run – he actually led the Bearcats in rushing with 45 yards on three carries – and Jeremy Elliott added the clincher with a 29-yard touchdown run with 3:51 to play to make it 41-2.
The Bearcats will be on the road Friday taking on Waldron, who is led by Booneville graduate Ricky May. Waldron is 3-3 overall and 1-2 in conference play coming off a 42-21 loss to Pottsville Friday.