VILONIA — Fourth down was both angelic and devilish to Vilonia against the Morrilton Devil Dogs.
The Eagles held the Eagles on downs four times, three times inside the 10 — once after first down at the 1. However, two bad snaps on punts and a pivotal fourth-down stop late in the first half propelled Morrilton to a 40-12 victory, spoiling homecoming for the Eagles at Phillip Weaver Stadium.
It was the first loss for Vilonia in six games and put the 5A-West race in a jumble below Greenbrier. Both Vilonia and Morrilton are now 3-1 in the league.
The Eagles, which had won seven straight games dating back to last year, were within striking distance with the first possession of the third quarter.
The game turned completely around when lineman Charles Burnett returned a fumble 35 yards for a touchdown to put Morrilton up 2206 with 9:24 left in the third quarter.
Shutting down the Vilonia offense between the 20s, the Devils Dogs added a 23-yard field goal by Jorge Rivero, his second of the night, early in the fourth quarter. They took advantage of a back-to-back personal foul and unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties by the Eagles to drive to a 5-yard touchdown by quarterback Tony Hawkins, who disrupted their defense all night with his scrambling. Late in the fourth quarter, Laquanta Canady returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown for a 40-6 lead. The Eagles scored in the final minutes on a 34-yard pass from Jared Willis to Drew Estes.
Fourth down, which scratched the Eagles early, combined with the scrambling of Hawkins and dives and sweeps by Jamar Criswell, took a real bite out of the Eagles in the final seconds of the first half.
With Morrilton leading 9-6, The Eagles’ Colton Hust took a short snap from punt formation on fourth down but was stopped short.
Hawkins, scrambling cleverly with low snaps, drove the Devils Dogs down the field in the final 1:59. A 17-yard slant pass to Montrell Hood set up a 12-yard fade pass to Criswell for a touchdown that gave Morrilton a 16-6 lead with 9.3 seconds left in the pass.
The Eagle defense, with big plays from Martin Reyes, Jake Steward and Logan Pentor, held the Devil Dogs twice on downs in the first quarter after two high snaps put them in precarious field position, once on first down at the 1. Vilonia survived the miscues with yielding only a safety after a high snap on a punt.
Then, the Eagles superbly used ter double-wing offense to drive 90 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown — a 6-yard pass from Kyle Wyatt to Chase Marshall. A two-point conversion was stopped, but Vilonia led, 6-2, with 6:47 left in the second quarter.
Morrilton, with Hawkins gashing the Vilonia defense with his scrambling, often after low snaps, drove 56 yards to take the lead. He scored the touchdown untouched on a 4-yard run to put the Devil Dogs up 9-6 with 3:10 left in the half.
The Eagles host Alma in their final regular-season home game Friday.
At Quitman, Conway Christian quarterback Tanner Stevenson passed for three touchdowns and Ancil Lea rushed for 144 yards on 22 carries and scored twice as the Eagles remained undefeated in 2A-5 with a 54-6 romp over the Bulldogs.
Andrew Dather caught nine passes for 112 yards and Chandler Ferrand three for 88. CCS (6-1, 4-0) held the Bulldogs (3-4, 1-3) to 161 yards on offense on 57 plays.
Stevenson capped a 77-yard, 15-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown to open a flood of 26 points by the Eagles in the second quarter. He passed 65 yards to Ferrand, then Lea scored from a yard out. Pierson Castle gave the Eagles a 26-6 halftime lead with a 23-yard interception return.
In the third quarter, Stevenson completed touchdown passes of 54 yards to Jonathon Antonio and 54 to Andrew Dather. Le scored on a 5-yard run in the fourth quarter and Ferrand added a 6-yard touchdown run.
The Eagles play at Cutter Morning Star next Friday.
Greenbrier remained unbeaten with a 58-21 romp over Clarksville on homecoming night at Don Jones Stadium.
The Panthers (7-0, 4-0) are the only unbeaten team remaining in 5A-West.
Seth Peters completed 21 of 32 passes for 276 yards and four touchdowns. He ran for another.
Austin Fischer caught eight passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Garrett Johnson had five receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
The Panthers scored four times in the first quarter against winless Clarksville. Peters passed 24 yards and 11 yards to Johnson and 34 and 9 yards to Fischer. He ran 4 yards for another touchdown. Fischer had TD runs of 1 and 3 yards and Williamson added a 9-yard scoring run. Sam Burchfield booted seven extra points and a 25-yard field goal.
At Mayflower, Mayflower (3-4, 2-2) accumulated 575 yards in offense but fell short, 55-39, against the unbeaten Barton Bears (7-0, 4-0).
Adam Dycus completed 28 of 45 passes for 482 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions. He rushed for 93 yards.
Daniel Geiber rushed for 53 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Forrester ran for a 5-yard TD.
Geiber caught six passes for 198 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown pass from Dycus.
Josh Woodham caught four passes for 63 yards, including receptions of 15 and 34 yards. Drew Duncan caught nine passes for 65 yards, Madison Chambliss four for 39 yards and Garrett Taylor five for 117 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown reception.
The Eagles play at unbeaten Harding Academy next week.