Bulldogs repeat as 7A champs

LITTLE ROCK — Fayetteville scored twice in 17 seconds during the third quarter and ended a late Bentonville threat with an interception return for a touchdown to hold off the previously unbeaten Tigers for a 31-20 victory Saturday night in the 7A state championship. The two 7A/6A-West rivals met in the title game last year, with Fayetteville winning 29-28 in overtime. Bentonville (12-1) won the regular-season meeting this year.

But in this year’s championship, Fayetteville (10-3) found the much-needed momentum after halftime. The Bulldogs tied it at 7-7 in the second quarter and got a touchdown run from Austin Allen and an interception return by Jordan Dennis to build a 21-7 lead.

Bentonville pulled within 24-20 on a 37-yard Reece Dollins pass to Jimmie Jackson, but Cole Harris sealed the game with a 34-yard pick-six with 1:56 left.

Allen led Fayetteville (10-3) with 198 yards on 19-of-28 passing. Brice Gahagans ran for 87 yards and a touchdown to lead the Bulldogs, while Allen added 53 rushing yards and another TD.

Cole Harris caught seven passes for 80 yards to lead Fayetteville receivers.

Dollins completed 18 of 29 passes for 198 yards and two TDs to lead Bentonville. Jackson caught five of those passes for 95 yards.