By Tony Burns
CAMDEN – When all else failed Friday night, El Dorado found one thing on which it could rely. Senior tailback Alex Hicks rushed for 270 yards on 44 carries as the Wildcats outlasted Camden Fairview 16-13.
The game began with the temperature near triple digits and saw players on both sides cramping up from the heat in the second half. That didn’t include Hicks, who had 27 carries in the second half, including 10 in a row on the Wildcats’ final possession, which ran out the clock.
On the final drive, he converted a fourth-and-1 at the EHS 47 with a 4-yard bull rush and ended the game with a 3-yard run on fourth-and-1.
“We put it on his back tonight,” said El Dorado coach Steven Jones. “He took the entire game over.”
The Cardinals, playing their season opener, took a 13-10 lead on a 2-yard run by Patrick Rucks with 7:38 left in the third quarter. The 10-play, 76-yard drive to open the second half featured Erik Hall, who had carries of 26 and 21 yards.
After El Dorado’s offense stalled, Fairview took over at its own 30 and launched another 10-play drive. But, on fourth-and-1 at the EHS 21, the Wildcats’ defense held, fighting into the backfield to force a fumble.
El Dorado took over at the 21 and gave the ball to Hicks. The former All-State quarterback carried the ball on 10 of the 11 plays. He converted a fourth-and-2 with a 4-yard tote and had a 20-yard scamper before he scored on a 9-yard run against a weary Cardinal defense.
The snap on the PAT was low and El Dorado settled for a 16-13 advantage with 10:27 left in the game.
The teams exchanged possessions before Fairview’s Dashaire Ford-Burton returned a punt 45 yards to the EHS 40. Logan Robertson passed to Jaden Bates for 26 to the 14-yard line. But, after two incompletions, Rucks was dropped for a 3-yard loss. Fourth-and-13 turned into fourth-and-18 after a penalty and the Wildcats’ defense held on fourth down.
Ten handoffs to Hicks put the game on ice.
“Always good to win on the road and always good to beat Camden Fairview,” said Jones. “We’ll take the positives and build on it, move on and get ready for Cabot next week.”
The Wildcats opened the scoring on a 4-yard touchdown run by Hicks with 9:02 left in the first. Greysen Hubbard added the PAT.
El Dorado’s offense would surrender a fumble and an interception on two of its next three possessions. The Cardinals would take advantage, finally, on a 49-yard touchdown run by Hall with 1:49 left in the half. William Boneillo tied the game with the extra point.
The Wildcats started the ensuing possession at the 35. Hicks’ 28-yard run followed by a pass interference flag put the ball at the Fairview 11. El Dorado pushed to the 8 before a bad snap lost 15 yards to the 23 with 0.8 seconds left in the half.
Hubbard came on to boot a 40-yard field goal to give the Wildcats the halftime advantage.