Fayetteville came into North Little Rock Friday looking for their first win of the year. Historically, the Bulldogs have been perfect against the Wildcats since the NLR merger in 1990 and have won all eight contests by an average of 16 points.
“I thought it was huge,” North Little Rock head coach J.R. Eldridge said. “I’m really proud of our coaches and players with how they were able to prepare. It’s huge for these guys who grew up around here to finally be able to get this win.”
After spending the first couple of minutes in their own territory, things were looking promising for Fayetteville after Kameron Ingram went left for a big gain all the way to the NLR 35. Moments later, quarterback Owen Mccone was brought down for a 12-yard sack and the Bulldogs were forced to punt it away a couple of plays later.
After stopping North Little Rock on fourth down the following series, Fayetteville was driving but Mccone’s pass was in front of Isaiah Sategna (Razorback prospect) and it bounced off of his fingers into the hands of NLR’s Ricky Reed with 3:23 left in the first quarter.
The first points were put on the board with 6:20 left in the first half as Thomas Needy hit a 26-yard field goal to give Fayetteville a 3-0 advantage after strong defensive battles from both teams.
North Little Rock answered quickly the next drive when Fredrick O’Donald busted a hard-earned touchdown run for 45 yards to make it 7-3 Wildcats with 5:28 remaining in the first half.
The Wildcats had just over two minutes before halftime when quarterback Kareame Cotton broke a 41-yard run to put North Little Rock in the redzone. Two plays later, O’Donald bullied his way into the left end zone giving NLR a 14-3 lead which they took into the half.
“Kareame and Fred are doing a great job of leading our team in practice, and when they come out here it translates,” Eldridge stated. “Being able to see them develop as leaders and watch them execute over the last two games has been fun to see.”
The Wildcats opened the second half with the football and they took full advantage in three and a half minutes when backup quarterback Damon Bell ran it in from inside the 5-yard line adding to the lead 21-3.
The next couple of plays were action-packed as the Wildcats forced a sack fumble on Fayetteville QB Bladen Fike and they took over at midfield. The very next play, Fayetteville responded with a turnover of their own picking off Cotton’s pass to begin a new drive on their own 10 with just over five minutes left in the third.
Fike led the Bulldogs on a 90-yard drive that was highlighted by Sategna catching a screen pass at the 26, taking it inside the Fayetteville 5-yard line, and Fike sneaked it in for the score two plays later in the final seconds of the third to cut the lead to 21-10 Wildcats.
Around the 8 minute mark in the 4th, Fayetteville got the ball back with great field position after a Wildcat player touched it and the Bulldogs jumped on it, then they proceeded to score two plays later making it 21-17.
It didn’t take long for North Little Rock to respond as O’Donald broke a 70-yard run for his third score of the game pushing the Wildcat lead to 28-17.
Fayetteville made it just inside the NLR 20-yard line on the next drive, but turned the ball over on downs with under four minutes to play. NLR would score once more to extend the lead to the 35-17 advancing to 2-0 on the season. Fayetteville drops to 0-3.
Published by Kyle Sutherland, @sutherland54WPS on Twitter