A victory over a longtime rival and some help from another conference team Friday night has Conway still in the running for a 7A/6A-Central Conference championship.
Just don’t try to figure it all out yet.
The Wampus Cats scored 20 unanswered points en route to knocking off Russellville 27-7 at Centennial Bank Field at John McConnell Stadium. With the win and North Little Rock’s 35-0 victory over Bryant, Conway (7-2 overall) is tied with both Bryant and North Little Rock at 5-1 in league play heading into the final week.
"It’s good that we’re able to put ourselves back in the mix," Cats coach Clint Ashcraft said. "Hopefully, that will be a spark for our guys and give them a second wind, so to speak."
If a similar effort from the latest win is repeated, that spark could lead to more wins.
"It was good to see a collaboration of all three phases (offense, defense and special teams) come together like this," Ashcraft said. "That was probably the best we’ve done all season of putting it all together."
It didn’t take long for the Cats to put together a score. In fact, that came before either offense took the field, as Brandon Cox returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.
After a couple of drives that stalled and a missed Conway field goal attempt, the Cyclones (1-8, 0-6) evened the score as Kendall Bond scored on a 1-yard run at the 11:56 mark in the first half.
That would be all the scoring for Russellville, as the Cats scored the game’s final 20 points.
"Defensively, we played really well," Cyclones coach Jeff Holt said. "We just couldn’t get in any rhythm on offense."
Cox accounted for three of Conway’s touchdowns. Tyler Langley, who finished 16-of-28 passing for 220 yards, hit Cox on touchdown passes of 15 and 23 yards. Colin Fluesmeier accounted for the Cats’ other touchdown — at the 3:30 mark in the third quarter.
A solid defensive performance helped keep the Cyclones at bay.
"We had several three-and-outs (on defense)," Ashcraft said. "We did a good job of making plays on third down. That was big."
Rashad Shepherd led the Cats in receiving with seven catches for 103 yards.
"They were playing off Rashad and giving him a cushion," Ashcraft said. "Tyler and Rashad really made them pay."
Corven Alexander paced the Conway rushing attack with 80 yards on 12 carries.
The Cyclones amassed just 141 yards of offense. They were led by Bond’s 33 rushing yards. Quarterback Mitch Mullen passed for 114 yards.
"They (Cats) are a good football team," Holt said. "We had our chances, but they played better."
Conway will close its season Thursday against Little Rock Catholic at War Memorial Stadium. Several possibilites remain for playoff seeding, including a three-way tie with Bryant and North Little Rock.
"I don’t think anything will be settled until next week," Ashcraft said.