SPRINGDALE — The play call with the windy weather Friday night often went with a rush from Springdale Har-Ber sophomore running back Hudson Brewer.
He didn’t disappoint for the Wildcats.
Brewer rushed 31 times for 249 yards with a touchdown to help lead the way in a 28-19 victory over Fort Smith Southside in a 7A-West conference matchup at Wildcat Stadium.
“It was a night with the wind that it was tough to put the ball in the air,” Har-Ber coach Chris Wood said. “You win games late in the year running the football. I thought we ran the ball very well. I was really proud of the line and the backs.”
Brewer finished with 121 yards in the first half then topped it with 128 second-half rushing yards when it was needed most down the stretch.
The Wildcats are one of the hottest teams in the state right now. After dropping the opening four games of the season, Har-Ber (4-4, 4-1) has now won four consecutive games with a margin of victory of 82 points in those contests.
“We are trying to grow and get better each week,” Wood said. “We are trying to build the resume for the playoffs. It’s going to be unique with the bracket this year. We just want to keep winning these conference games. That’s what we were able to do.”
Southside (2-6, 1-3) was guided in the game by senior quarterback Parker Wehunt, who was making his first start of the season. He completed 17 of 29 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
“He didn’t even know he was going to play quarterback until this morning,” Southside coach Kim Dameron said. “I’m really proud of him. He plays a lot of positions for us. He plays fullback, tight end, can play in the slot and is on our special teams. He gave us a chance playing quarterback.”
Wehunt’s main targets were Javon Williamson (four catches for 112 yards and a touchdown) and Luke Wyatt (six catches for 50 yards and a score).
Har-Ber quarterback Drue McClendon finished 8-of-19 passing for 74 yards with three touchdowns. Ethan Fender caught five passes for 38 yards and two touchdowns.
Har-Ber held a 14-6 lead at halftime, and a key sequence of drives to open the third quarter helped the Wildcats build the lead.
Southside marched down the field on the opening possession of the second half with a 15-play drive that ended inside the Har-Ber 20 after turning the ball over on downs.
The Wildcats then scored on their following drive to make it 21-6 with a 53-yard touchdown rush from Brewer, his longest run of the night.
Southside bounced back to cut the edge to 21-13 with an 80-yard touchdown pass to Williamson from Wehunt on third down with about two minutes left in the third quarter.
Har-Ber answered with a touchdown of its own in the air later in the fourth quarter on fourth down. Fender caught a 29-yard pass from McClendon to make it 28-13 with about two minutes left to play.
Southside found the end zone one last time when Wyatt caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Wehunt. A missed extra point made it a 28-19 Har-Ber advantage with about a minute left to play.
“I told the kids after the game I was really proud of the way they competed,” Dameron said. “If we make a few more plays, we had a chance. We were right there. I’m proud of the improvement over the year. But we didn’t come here to get a moral victory.”
Down just eight points most of the fourth quarter, Southside had some opportunities to cut into the lead but couldn’t break through.
Before the final touchdown, Har-Ber ended South-side drives with an interception and had another stop before that.
“Our defense played really well when we needed them,” Wood said. “They got some key stops. They had some chances. Our defense really stepped up last week and did so again tonight. They had some critical stops to help us out.”
• It has been rare for South-side to not be on Har-Ber’s schedule. Dating back to the debut season, Har-Ber has had Southside on its schedule in 12 of the past 14 seasons. Har-Ber leads the all-time series in this matchup 10-7.
• This game featured 16 penalties for 178 yards. There also were another 80 yards of offsetting penalties as well.
• Har-Ber got interceptions on defense from Billy Tillery and Warren Hall.
• 7A-West conference play is scheduled to continue next week. Southside travels to Bentonville West, while Har-Ber heads to Rogers High.
Springdale Har-Ber 28, Fort Smith Southside 19
South — Riddle 3 rush (kick failed), 2:15
Har — Alvis 18 pass from McClendon (Ramirez kick), 9:06
Har — Fender 3 pass from McClendon (Ramirez kick), 3:54
Har — Brewer 53 rush (Ramirez kick), 3:33
South — Williamson 80 pass from Wehunt (DeLassus kick), 1:53
Har — Fender 29 pass from McClendon (Ramirez kick), 2:28
South — Wyatt 16 pass from Wehunt (kick failed), 1:18