Bobcats maul Billies to remain in playoff hunt

MONTICELLO — Dumas scored plenty of points Friday night in its 8-4A Conference battle with Monticello – 41 in a row, in fact — but it was two points the Bobcats didn’t score that may have made the difference in a 41-13 victory that spoiled Senior Night for the Billies.

The teams are both now 3-3 in 8-4A play with one game remaining. Dumas (3-6 on the season) is at Hamburg and Monticello (4-5) plays at DeWitt on Thursday, and both remain in the playoff hunt along with Crossett, which plays at Star City.

The Billies appeared to have things under control early as they jumped to a 13-0 lead.

Monticello went ahead 7-0 on a 27-yard keeper by quarterback Cole Connelley and his PAT with 9:42 left in the first period, as the hosts scored on the game’s opening possession. Diante Barnhill had run 37 yards on the previous play to set up the touchdown.

Dumas punted after going three-and-out and Barnhill returned the kick 58 yards to the Bobcat 20 to set up a 4-yard scoring run by Omar Simpson with 6:59 left in the quarter. The PAT try failed.

The Bobcats then used 11 plays to drive 67 yards to pull within 13-6 on a 10-yard pass from Ryan Miller to Cortland Austin at the 2:53 mark of the opening period. The PAT failed.

Monticello almost failed to cover the ensuing kickoff and ended up starting at its 4. Nine plays later, punting from the 20, the kick bounced off a Billie player’s helmet and Dumas set up shop at the 2. Senior Paul Steward, who rushed for 182 yards on 28 carries, scored the first of his five touchdowns with 10:49 left in the half and was ruled to have just gotten into the end zone on the two-point try. Dumas had already lined up for the kickoff when the officials gathered at the goal line, conferred and then ruled Steward had been stopped short, wiping the 14-13 Bobcat lead off the scoreboard.

Things went downhill from there for the Billies, who gained only 15 total yards in the second half until their final possession.

The teams swapped punts before Dumas senior Hunter Vickers stole a Connelley pass and returned it to the Monticello 7. Steward scored from the 1 with 3:46 on the clock and Miller again connected with Austin for the uncontested conversion and a 20-13 Dumas lead.

Dumas junior Dev Buchanan took the second half kickoff from his 22 to the 32 before fumbling and freshman teammate Ross Weatherford recovered at the 44. Following a delay of game penalty, the Bobcats used 10 plays to go on top 26-13 on an 8-yard Steward run with 8:02 left. The PAT kick was wide.

Bobcat senior John Scott Shepherd ended the next Monticello drive by recovering a fumble at the Dumas 38.

Barnhill intercepted a Miller pass at his 10 and returned it to the Billie 47, but a theft by Austin of Connelley’s next pass try gave Dumas the ball back at the Monticello 21. Steward carried to the 10 as the third period ended, but a holding call delayed his fourth touchdown momentarily as he gained 13 on the next play and scored from the 5 with 11:29 on the clock. He walked into the end zone on the PAT for a 34-13 Bobcat lead.

Bobcat senior Malachi Pointer rushed Connelley into a hurried throw on fourth-and-11 from the Monticello 30 and Dumas used the next 4:31 to set up Steward’s 5-yard touchdown run at the 5:07 mark, with Jairo Ramirez kicking the PAT for the final 41-13 margin.

The Bobcats and Billies each fumbled the ball away twice and Monticello lost it on an incomplete lateral before Dumas took over with 46 seconds left and ran out the clock.