Turnovers loomed large in Class 5A Vilonia’s 40-28 win Thursday at Class 6A Russellville.

For much of the night, it was a back-and-forth battle between a pair of unbeatens that garnered Hooten’s Class 6A game of the week status.

A pair of Russellville (2-1) turnovers in the red zone eventually spelled doom for the Cyclones as Russellville looked to take a 28-21 advantage in the closing moments of the first half.

Starting the drive at the Vilonia 31 with 2:48 to go in the half, the Cyclones eventually made it down to the Vilonia 3 after sophomore Tracy Daniels chipped away 24 yards on five carries, while junior Benjamin Haulmark rushed for four.

With Russellville threatening, Haulmark lofted a Tim Tebow-esque pass into the end zone, but Vilonia (3-0) senior Jamison Hinsley picked it off for a touchback with 10 seconds left.

The Cyclones eventually got that 28-21 lead on an 11-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Gavin Graham to senior wide receiver Elijah Clark with 7:15 left in the third quarter.

After a stalled drives by both teams, the Eagles pulled within one as senior quarterback Austin Myers rolled to his right and threw it downfield to an outstretched Hinesly that pulled the ball down at the Russellville 46 with one hand and carried it the rest of the way for an 82-yard touchdown. Vilonia’s extra point missed, which put the score at 28-27 in Russellville’s favor with 3:41 left in the third.

That touchdown was scored after Russellville pinned the Eagles at their 1 for the second time in the game.

Vilonia couldn’t do anything the last time it was pinned at the 1.

The Eagles then took a 33-28 advantage on their next possession as Myers threw a 3-yard pass to senior running back Lane Hunter, which capped off a 67-yard drive.

Vilonia attempted a 2-point conversion but it was snuffed out by the Cyclone defense.

Russellville once again saw a costly turnover in the red zone that paved the way for the Eagle win as Haulmark fumbled within the 10-yard line, which was recovered at the Vilonia 7.

A Cyclone touchdown would have resulted in a 35-33 advantage with 9:05 left in the game had the extra point been made as well.

Instead, the Eagles increased their lead four players later as Myers hit junior wide receiver Eli Mosier in stride for a 71-yard touchdown pass that brought the game to the final score of 40-28.

After stalling out on the next drive, Russellville forced a Vilonia punt, but the Cyclones muffed the punt, which led to an Eagle recovery and effectively sealed the game.

Though Haulmark had a pair of costly turnovers for Russellville, he did score on the Cyclones’ opening drive on a 1-yard touchdown and then caught an 11-yard touchdown from Graham to take a 14-0 Russellville lead in the first quarter.

Vilonia finally got on the board at the 5:27 mark of the first quarter as Myers connected with senior wide receiver Connor Eary on a 39-yard touchdown.

Vilonia tied it up on its next drive as Hunter rushed for a 3-yard score.

Haulmark once again was involved in Russellville’s scoring as he threw a 6-yard touchdown pass out the Wildcat formation to Clark to give the Cyclones a 21-14 lead.

After Russellville forced a three-and-out, Graham was intercepted by Vilonia senior cornerback Dustin Jones, which resulted in a 21-yard touchdown pass from Myers to Hinsley to tie the game up at 21.

Then, the costly Russellville turnovers came along, which paved the way for a Vilonia win.

Both teams are now set to begin conference play with Russellville traveling to Benton next Friday, while Vilonia hosts Clarksville.

Andy Robertson is the sports editor of the Log Cabin Democrat and can be reached at

arobertson@thecabin.net.

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