STUTTGART — Senior quarterback Dontrell Brown was responsible for all five of Stuttgart’s touchdowns as the Ricebirds defeated Prairie Grove 32-15 Friday night in the semifinals of the Class 4A football playoffs.
“I think he had a hand in every score,” Stuttgart head coach Billy Elmore said. “He is a playmaker and a go-to guy.
“He does so much for us offensively, and puts us in a good situation. He is a work horse for us.”
On Stuttgart’s first possession of the second half, Brown capped off a 97-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run behind a pair of blockers to give his team a 25-7 lead with 2:53 left in the third quarter. His score all but sealed the win for the Ricebirds (13-1).
Following a three-and-out by Prairie Grove (13-1), Stuttgart scored again on its next possession with only two plays.
The first was a 45-yard pass from Brown to senior Dre’lon Ice that set up a first down at the 12-yard line. Brown followed that up with a 12-yard touchdown run up the middle for the Ricebirds’ final score of the night.
Ozark defeated Highland 28-25 Friday night and advanced to play Stuttgart in the 4A state championship at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock next Saturday, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Once again, Stuttgart’s defense came up clutch at key moments for the Ricebirds.
“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Prairie Grove head coach Danny Abshier said. “Their defense was too solid for us.
“We couldn’t run the ball and we couldn’t throw it well.”
Prairie Grove opened the second half by returning the kickoff to the 3-yard line. The Tigers nearly scored on the return, but Stuttgart’s Jackson Kennedy pushed the returner out of bounds to save the score.
Stuttgart’s defense then held on four straight plays, including a sack on fourth down, to keep Prairie Grove out of the end zone.
“We had four shots and we couldn’t punch it into the end zone,” Abshier said. “This defense is all over the place.
“They were better than us tonight.”
Prairie Grove’s only offensive score of the night was in the fourth quarter when quarterback Cooper Winters completed a 38-yard touchdown pass to Colby Elkins.
“Our defense played well all year, and they have really picked it up in the playoffs,” Elmore said. “That goal-line stand really set the tone for the second half.”
The Tigers’ first score game in the second quarter when Jacob Kahl picked up a blocked punt and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown.
It cut Stuttgart’s lead to 12-7 with about 2:29 left in the first half.
“We know we still have a lot of work to do,” Elmore said. “But getting a chance to play for a title is so big. Our kids have worked for that.
“We are excited about the opportunity and hopefully we will perform well next week too.”
Brown got the Ricebirds on the board in the first quarter when he sneaked it in from one-yard out. The score gave Stuttgart a 6-0 lead with 4:33 left in the first quarter.
With about 9:44 left in the first half, Stuttgart increased their lead to 12 when Brown hit Ice in stride for a 45-yard touchdown.
At the end of the first half, Brown had 70 yards rushing on 12 carries with a touchdown. He was also 3 of 4 passing for 106 yards and two touchdowns. He had an interception but it was a desperation-type throw right before halftime.