LITTLE ROCK Alma coach Todd Dilbeck had a message for his team after their game at Little Rock Mills.
"And then there were eight," he said. Referring to the number of teams to advance to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.
The Airedales are one of those eight, taking advantage of a late-game fumble by the Comets and holding on for a 21-20 victory at Mills.
Both teams stayed primarily on the ground, combining for only 20 passes, 16 by Alma (7-4). Mills (7-4) was led by Dwayne Davis, who ran for a game-high 212 yards on 29 carries and scored two of the Comets' touchdowns.
Neither team built a lead greater than a single touchdown. With 4:14 left in the third quarter, Airedales quarterback Gage Jensen ran it in from 6 yards out for the go-ahead score.
The teams traded punts for a majority of the fourth quarter until Mills drove inside the Alma 40 and ran an option to the left side. Quarterback Omar Avance pitched to Okera Leonard, who fumbled. The Airedales' Asa Scruggs recovered the ball on their own 35. Jensen and running back Malachi White ran the clock down by pounding the ball into the line with the running game.
Alma finished with 282 rushing yards. They will play top-seeded Camden Fairview next Friday on the road.
Read more about this story in tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.