It was another week, another shutout victory for the Dollarway Cardinals as they defeated former conference rival Star City 36-0 Friday night at Golden Lion Stadium on the campus of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
“I thought it was a complete effort and similar to what we did last week,” Dollarway head coach Cortez Lee said. “I thought we came out and established what we do well.”
Dollarway, which gives up about 14 points a game, earned its sixth shutout of the year thanks to three important red-zone stops.
Star City (9-4) drove the field on its opening possession, making it to Dollarway’s 17-yard line with about 8 minutes left in the first quarter. However, the Bulldogs would miss a 30-yard field goal attempt on fourth down, as the game remained scoreless.
Trailing 8-0, the Bulldogs were able to take the ball all the way down to inside the 10-yard line, looking to score. Dollarway (13-0) would make a goal line stand and force a turnover on downs with 5:15 left in the first half.
“Defense wins championships,” Lee said. “That’s the best way I can explain it. All year long, our defense has been a staple of what we’ve been hanging our hat on.
“Even though our offense has been prolific at times, our defense is what keeps making all the plays.”
Star City had a first down at the 3-yard line. But two stops near the line of scrimmage and one tackle for loss that pushed the Bulldogs back to the 4-yard line, forced a fourth down.
Star City attempted a pass into the end zone but it was tipped out of bounds.
“That deflates you,” Star City head coach Jett Furneaux said. “That takes the momentum away from you.
“You have a chance to at least tie the ball game, and instead they go right down and score. It was huge.”
With their next drive starting at their own 4-yard line, the Cardinals drove it 96 yards, scoring on a 33-yard run by junior Keshawn Williams. It gave the Cardinals a 14-0 lead with 2:19 left in the first half.
On the Bulldogs’ next possession, Tye Brown completed a 18-yard pass on first down but Star City failed to pick up a second first down and had to punt it away with less than a minute left in the first half.
Dollarway capitalized on the stop with a 3-yard touchdown by senior quarterback Joshua Liddell as time expired. It gave the Cardinals a 22-0 lead heading into half time.
“It deflates you,” Furneaux said referring to the goal line stands. “And it puts you behind the gun when you aren’t stopping their offense.
“Those stops were huge. Would it have made a difference in the outcome, who knows?
“That is something that a young group of men has got to learn from. When you get down there, you got to be able to put the ball in the end zone.”
Star City attempted an onside kick to begin the second half, but Dollarway was able to recover it and return it to the Star City’s 33-yard line.
Dollarway senior Darius Robinson rushed for a 29-yard gain and Williams scored his second touchdown of the game to give the Cardinals a 30-0 lead with 10:57 left in the third quarter.
Dollarway scored on its opening possession thanks to a 51-yard pass to Kabion Ento. The 2-point attempt was successful and it gave the Cardinals an 8-0 lead with 3:11 left in the first quarter.
Ento grabbed his ninth interception of the season right before the end of the third quarter to keep the shutout in tact.
“He is very special player,” Lee said. “They got on to me today, ‘Coach all you kept saying was he is a special guy,’ but that’s exactly what he is.
“He’s been with me for the last three years. That guy just makes plays. He’s a smart player.
“His intelligence, as far as football, is off the charts. I’m just proud of his effort once again.”
Later in the third quarter, Dollarway scored on a 34-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Murphy to go up 36-0 and enforce the AAA mercy rule.
Dollarway advances to the 4A semifinals and will host Booneville next week. Booneville defeated Lincoln 35-0 Friday night.
Bonneville (13-0) defeated Star City 21-7 in Week 3.
“It really was an overachieving season,” Furneaux said. “These seniors were 2-6 as ninth graders and we weren’t expecting a whole lot.
“A quarterfinal team is a pretty good team. Im just really proud of how they matured as the season went on and to give themselves the opportunity they did.”