Turnovers were a big theme in the Conway Wampus Cats’ 35-21 win over the Fort Smith Northside Grizzlies on Friday for Homecoming at John McConnell Stadium in Conway.
Knocking on the doorstep on their opening drive the Grizzlies (5-2, 2-2 7A Central) looked like they were taking an early lead.
Instead, senior running back Eli Bolton fumbled into the end zone.
Looking to take advantage, the Wampus Cats (6-1, 3-1 7A Central) drove down the field, deep into Northside territory.
However, Conway senior quarterback Jovoni Johnson was picked off in the end zone by senior Tyriq Adams, and returned to the Grizzlies’ 45.
The Northside drive didn’t amount to much as because Conway senior defensive back Roman Aaron.
The Wampus Cats couldn’t muster anything, eventually punting.
The Grizzlies took over at their 41 and drove into Conway territory.
Northside would eventually break through the threshold, scoring on a 36-yard touchdown pass from senior Derrick Deuce Wise to senior wide receiver Jeremy Maffei with 9:01 left in the third quarter.
Conway would answer back six plays later, the Wampus Cats even it up on a 6-yard rushing touchdown by senior running back Cary McClain.
Both teams traded possessions until Northside would score again, this time on another touchdown pass from Wise to junior running back Jackson King on a 13-yard touchdown before the end of the first half.
The Grizzlies would go up by 14 when Wise threw another touchdown pass, this time for 39 yards.
Conway responded by McClain busting through the tough Northside defense and sprinted 76 yards for a touchdown, bringing the Wampus Cats within seven.
Conway would get another chance quickly when the Grizzlies fumbled.
Wampus Cats senior cornerback Darius Washington recovered the fumble at the Northside 17.
Conway looked to punch it it, but Johnson would fumble into the end zone, leading to a Grizzlies recovery and a touchback.
The Wampus Cats defense would get a stop, leading to an offensive drive starting at their 31.
After driving into Northside territory, Conway would score again, this time on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to senior wide receiver Will McKenna to tie the game at 21.
The Wampus Cat defense forced another fumble and took over at the Grizzlies’ 37.
Conway would score shortly when Johnson punched it in from one yard out, taking a 28-21 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Northside couldn’t get anything going on their next possession, so the Wampus Cats would take a 14-point lead when junior running back Luke Bailey scored on a 1-yard rushing touchdown.
McClain finished with 177 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
Johnson ran for 96 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries.
Conway will head to Little Rock next Friday to play Central at 7 p.m.