SPRINGDALE — Rogers Heritage senior Joey Saucier ran for a career-high 296 yards and four touchdowns, including the eventual game-winner on an 80-yard run late in the fourth quarter Friday night.
Saucier’s big day paved the way for Heritage’s thrilling 40-35 win over Springdale, but a key defensive play on the ensuing drive solidified the win for the War Eagles.
Heritage cornerback Jerrell Hobbs recovered Malcolm Neal’s fumble near midfield on the first play of Springdale’s drive and the War Eagles (2-2, 1-0 7A-West) were able to run out the clock for an exciting win.
Heritage outgained Springdale (0-4, 0-1) 551-476, but the Bulldogs scored touchdowns on three consecutive drives to get back in it, taking a 35-34 lead on quarterback Fuller Chandler’s 17-yard touchdown pass to senior Salvador Sandoval. Saucier’s long touchdown run put Heritage back up, but Springdale appeared to be in good shape after Sandoval returned the subsequent kickoff to the 48 with more than four minutes left.
Neal ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, all career-highs, but coughed the ball up after being hit by a Heritage linebacker, allowing Hobbs to fall on the third Springdale turnover of the night.
- Saucier scored on runs of 8, 20 and 38 yards prior to the 80-yarder. He averaged 8.7 yards per carry and was a threat with his speed an ability to break tackles.
- Heritage passed for just 63 yards in its first three games, but quarterback Joel Brackett completed 6 of 9 passes for 112 yards a touchdown and two interceptions Friday. He also ran for 133 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown which was part of his 131 rushing yards after halftime.
- Heritage senior tight end Howie Stettmeier caught two passes for 94 yards, including a 61-yard score late in the second quarter.
- Chandler had another big game. The 7A-West’s leading passer completed 15 of 24 passes for 267 yards with three touchdowns and one interception on a jump ball, while rushing for a career-high 92 yards. Four of his passes were dropped.
- Sandoval had 10 catches for a career-high 159 yards and a touchdown.
- Springdale was without senior receiver/safety Zach Burton (knee). Burton ranked third in the 7A-West with 13 catches through the first three weeks.
- Springdale’s 21 second-half points were more than the Bulldogs had scored in the second half (14) in the first three weeks combined. Springdale hadn’t scored in the second half since week one against Greenwood.
- Springdale junior safety Jorge Alba made an acrobatic one-handed interception on a deep pass downfield in the first half, then lined up at running back and caught a 50-yard touchdown on a wheel route in the third quarter. He also had several impressive hits.
- Springdale started sophomores Kamryn Dickerson and Kender Bolkeim at linebacker and moved senior Jaime Argueta up to defensive end.