FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Blue Springs was the victim of a pair of big plays.
Cemari Dobbins came up with not one, but two of the biggest plays for Fayetteville (Ark.) Friday night at Harmon Stadium.
Dobbins, a junior cornerback for Fayetteville, jumped a pass route at just the right time and raced 69 yards with a interception return for a touchdown to give the Purple Bulldogs a 19-7 lead with just 26 seconds left before halftime. Dobbins then came up big again with the game on the line, knocking away a 4th and 10 pass attempt to help preserve a hard-fought, 26-21 Fayetteville victory against Blue Springs in its season opener.
“Cemari is one of those guys we’ve really put the heat on in this fall camp,” Fayetteville coach Bill Blankenship said. “We really need that corner spot to be solid and moving Trey (Coulter) to safety we really need Cemari to be solid.
“And I thought for his first big test, to get a pick six in his first real big varsity outing was huge.”
Fayetteville (1-0) began sluggish on offense, with two punts and a fumble on its three possessions in the first quarter. The Purple’Dogs picked up the pace in the second quarter and got things rolling a bit in the passing game.
Taylor Powell connected with Terrance Rock for a 20-yard swing pass touchdown to tie the game, 7-7 with 8 minutes, 30 seconds left in the second quarter. Powell then found Barrett Banister on a screen pass with 4:43 before half for a 13-7 Fayetteville lead.
Blue Springs (2-1) was driving inside the Fayetteville 40 yard line thanks to big pass plays from quarterback Chase Donohoe when Dobbins read Donohoe’s 2nd and 10 pass attempt from the 36 to perfection.
The Wildcats played without junior tailback Jaylen Ivey, who had rushed for 345 yards and seven touchdowns in the season opener two weeks ago. Ivey was suspended for two weeks for kicking an opposing player in last week’s win against Lee’s Summit West. His replacements at tailback, Michael Warmack and Aveion Bailey, filled in well.
Bailey was particularly effective in the second half, rushing for 142 yards on 16 carries. But the Wildcats played catch-up to Fayetteville the entire second half despite keeping the Bulldogs off balance on offense and controlling the game at times with their own rushing attack.
“We made mistakes that killed us and we should not have lost this football game,” Blue Springs coach Kelly Donohoe said. “Give Fayetteville credit. They made some nice plays, but we’re very upset. We gave them a short field twice, we gave them a pick-six. And we have a touchdown called back on what we thought was a horrible pass interference call.
“We came down here four hours to win a football game and we’re not happy right now.”
Blue Springs pulled within 19-14 with 8:39 left in the third quarter on a Bailey 5-yard run. Fayetteville answered when Powell found Kris Mulinga for a 23-yard touchdown pass for a 26-14 lead with 4:09 remaining in the third.
The Wildcats continued to chip away with a six-play, 82-yard drive to cut the deficit to 26-21 with 1:11 left in the third quarter before both teams were harmed by numerous penalties in the final quarter. Caleb Marquez capped the drive on a 31-yard touchdown run.
Blue Springs took over at its own 35-yard line with 3:20 remaining and drove inside the Fayetteville 35 before two key minus-yard rushing plays forced a 4th and 10 at the 44 to set up Dobbins’ pass breakup to preserve the Bulldogs’ win.
Donohoe finished 15 of 25 passing for 190 yards, a touchdown and the interception. His 35-yard TD pass to Tre Wheaton put the Wildcats ahead 7-0 at the 8:50 mark of the first quarter.