Ground game dominant at Vilonia.
Three times in the first half in Vilonia Friday night a Bearcat scored his first touchdown of the season. One, Andrew Robertson would make it two before halftime as the Bearcats led 28-0 on the way to a 35-14 nonconference win.
Vilonia (1-2), after an offside penalty on the Bearcats cut a fourth-and-11 down to a fourth-and-6 at midfield went for it and failed.
The Bearcats (2-1) needed two plays to score with quarterback Brandon Ulmer going 47 yards for the touchdown, his first of the year. Ulmer would run for 116 yards on 12 carries on the night.
There were punts on the next three possessions but the Bearcats had the Eagles pinned at the 16 after successive tackles for a loss by Jeremy Elliott and Marcus Nichols and Jordan Britton’s reached only the Eagle 47-yard line.
On first down fullback Grant Rodatz — Carson Ray sat out the game due to the knee injury sustained in Gravette on Sept. 8 — was seemingly stopped but emerged out the opposite side of a mass of bodies and went 47 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0 with Austin Dobbs’ second extra point.
With his first touchdown of the year Rodatz, a senior, ran for 73 yards on seven carries. Five Bearcat backs would combine for 368 rushing yards on 44 attempts, an 8.4 yard per play clip.
Vilonia ran a fake punt on its next possession with Britton hitting Triston Milligan for 5 yards, but that was 6 too few and the Bearcats took over at midfield again.
They took advantage again. It took eight plays but Robertson got the call at the 5 and scored his first touchdown to make it 20-0. The PAT was wide.
Britton relieved Vilonia starting quarterback Kyle Vines at that point and led the Eagles on a drive to the Bearcat 25 before the defense stiffened with Mike Hesson dropping Ben Duff for a 3-yard loss with 4:39 left in the first half.
Eleven plays later Robertson had his second touchdown a 14-yard carry and, with Ulmer hitting Trent Wooldridge for a two point conversion it was 28-0 55 seconds before halftime.
Scoring twice, Robertson made the most of his five carries for 41 yards.
The drive was aided by a pass interference penalty on a play Ethan Dobbs had his man beaten.
The Bearcats started the second half with a chance to put the sportsmanship rule into effect but after reaching the Eagle 32 the drive stalled and a fourth down pass from Ulmer to Ethan Dobbs got only 7 of the 10 yards needed.
Starting with Britton hitting Austin Koonce for 22 yards, Vilonia came to life. Duff ran 25 yards for a touchdown and with a Nick Lewis PAT it was 28-7 with 5:59 left in the third quarter.
Vilonia got the ball back less than three minutes later, still down by 21 when Rodatz was stopped a yard short on fourth down at the Eagle 36 but went three and out themselves.
The Bearcats marched 77 yards to reclaim their 28-point lead. Hesson, who set up the touchdown with a 28-yard carry that was helped by a horse-collar infraction, ran for the touchdown from the 4 and Austin Dobbs added the extra point for a 35-7 lead with 10:05 to play.
Hesson ran 16 times for 91 yards on the night.
With the Bearcats contributing a personal foul penalty the Eagles cut the lead to 35-14 on an 18-yard Britton to Koonce pass with 6:17 left.
Chase Wiggins recovered Lewis’ onside kick but the Bearcats would have to punt again with 3:52 to play.
The Eagles rode Britton’s arm to the Bearcat 8 before a fourth down pass to Dranen Smith got only 4 of the 5 yards needed and the Bearcats took over with 1:09 to go.
Britton finished 14 of 19 for 125 yards and the touchdown. He had also been intercepted by Ethan Dobbs on the final play of the first half. Rocha led the Eagle offense with 13 carries for 107 yards.
With Ray down and Dalton Tatum leaving the game at halftime the Bearcats relied heavily on Cam Brasher at linebacker and the sophomore responded with a 13 tackle game. Both Mike Hesson and Noah Reyes had nine stops, both with a team high six solos. Ethan Pirraglia, another sophomore, had eight tackles.
The Bearcats will be at home this weekend when they open Conference 4A-4 play against Pottsville. Kickoff is at 7.