El Dorado recovered an onsides kick to start the game and, literally, never looked back Friday in a 48-27 win over Lake Hamilton at Memorial Stadium. The victory advanced the Wildcats to the semifinals of the 6A state playoffs.
El Dorado (9-2) will host Marion next Friday. The Patriots surprised Benton 59-37.
“We’re fired up. All of our kids are excited. Our staff is excited, especially to have a home game in the semis,” said El Dorado coach Steven Jones. “It’s great for our program, awesome to be coming to work on Thanksgiving week and be preparing to play another game.”
El Dorado scored on its first four possessions and led 28-0 after one quarter. Defensively, the Wildcats halted the Wolves on their first five possessions, including a pair of fourth down stops.
Sharmon Rester threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns, completing 13-of-24 passes with one interception. Jackie Washington had five receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Kamron Bibby caught four for 113 yards and a touchdown. Shadarious Plummer had eight rushes for 75 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for 28 and a TD.
The Wildcats totaled 424 yards of offense.
The 9-3 Wolves accumulated 308 yards on the ground but a lot of that came late. El Dorado led 41-7 before surrendering three touchdowns in the final seven minutes of the game.
“I was really proud of their effort and how hard they played, especially in the first half,” Jones said of the defense. “They were really just stuffing the run. Lake Hamilton is a really good football team. We just destroyed those guys. Hat’s off to our defensive staff. They did a great job.”
The Wildcats kicked off to start the game and dribbled it short with Washington recovering at the 49. It took six plays to find pay dirt with DeAndra Burns, Jr., taking the handoff on a jet sweep and running for an 8-yard touchdown. Rojemi Aydogdu kicked the PAT with 10:54 left in the first.
“We had planned on an onside kick for this game. We felt like we saw something on film we wanted to attack,” Jones said. “We went into it and we ended up getting it. It was awesome and good to steal a possession to start out the game.”
The Wolves took the ensuing possession at the 22 and drove to the EHS 39 before Easton Hurley threw incomplete on fourth-and-4.
The Wildcats drove 61 yards in five plays. On third-and-10, Rester hit Burns for 34 yards. Two plays later, Rester found Plummer out of the backfield for a 21-yard TD pass. Aydogdu’s kick staked El Dorado to a 14-0 lead with 5:41 left in the first.
Lake Hamilton used seven plays to push the ball to midfield before throwing another incomplete pass on fourth-and-3. Rester hit Bibby for 24 yards before Plummer scored on a 24-yard run with 1:56 left in the second. The Wildcats scored again on a one-play drive when Rester connected with Washington, who spun away from a defender on a 41-yard TD reception, pushing the margin to 28-0 with nine seconds left in the first quarter.
Lake Hamilton finally slowed El Dorado’s offense in the second quarter, bringing pressure to the QB. The Wolves took advantage of a roughing-the-passer penalty and scored with one second left in the half on a 2-yard run by Tevin Hughes. The drive covered 75 yards in 13 plays. Alex Hurtz kicked the PAT to cut the deficit to 28-7 at the intermission.
El Dorado regained the momentum, opening the third quarter with a 9-play, 90-yard drive. Rester hit Bibby for a 40-yard completion to convert third-and-9 from the 11. Bibby would haul in a 30-yard touchdown reception with 9:35 left in the third for a 35-7 lead.
The Wolves would answer with a 15-play drive before El Dorado held on fourth down on a defensive play by Javin Steward.
The Wildcats drove to the 27 before Rester was intercepted by Justin Crutchmer.
El Dorado’s defense held again and the Wildcats scored on Rester’s 7-yard run on fourth down with 7:29 left in the fourth. After a bad snap, the run for two failed, leaving the score at 41-7.
The Wolves kept fighting with Hughes scoring on a 6-yard run with 6:44 left in the game. The score was set up by Crutchmer’s 46-yard run.
El Dorado answered with Rester hitting Washington on a 63-yard touchdown with 6:25 remaining.
Lake Hamilton tacked on a pair of scores against the Wildcats’ reserves. Hughes scored on a 3-yard run and Noah Tiernan scored on a 23-yard run with 12 seconds remaining.
Hughes led the Wolves with 121 yards rushing on 20 attempts.
Lake Hamilton was held to just three yards passing on 1-of-10 attempts.