STUTTGART — Dollarway coach Cortez Lee had to laugh when asked if the overlying theme for his team was overcoming adversity.

STUTTGART — Dollarway coach Cortez Lee had to laugh when asked if the overlying theme for his team was overcoming adversity.

After all, his Cardinals had just overcome a halftime deficit and knocked off another top team in the 4A state playoffs, as Dollarway celebrated a 26-23 win over Stuttgart Friday night.

“I guess you could say that,” Lee said in response to the question. “From Day One, they always said, ‘Coach, we want to be a good team.’ I know it’s hindsight, because we just had some success, but honestly these guys really believed in themselves and it showed in the second half.”

The Cardinals now hold a deceiving 5-6 record, as the team is 9-2 on the field. Earlier this season, Dollarway forfeited four wins for using an ineligible player.

Dollarway changed things offensively in the second half after a dismal first half performance, an adjustment that resulted in an 18-6 second half score for the Cardinals’ second come-from-behind playoff victory.

The major change was a move to the Wishbone offense. Lee said he was persuaded to make the change by the Cardinals players.

“They said, ‘Coach, let’s run down their throat,’” Lee said. “I just listened to the players.”

From the other side, Stuttgart coach Billy Elmore said the difference was not so much technical adjustments as it was Dollarway’s intensity.

“Defensively, there weren’t really that many adjustments,” Elmore said. “Give their coaches the credit. Usually we’re a better second-half team, but they just got after us.”

The Cardinals defense limited Ricebirds running back Keith Humbert to nine carries for 29 yards in the second half after he carried 21 times for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.

This was the 14th meeting between Dollarway and Stuttgart and first since 1988. The Cardinals have now won the past eight matchups, after the Ricebirds won the first six.

Aside from a 33-yard touchdown pass from Long to Kabion Ento, Dollarway’s offense was missing in action in the first half. Other than that play, the Cardinals put together 2 yards of total offense in the first 24 minutes.

Stuttgart began the scoring with a Humbert touchdown from 29 yards out with 6:33 left in the first quarter. Dollarway answered with the Long-Ento connection, but had nothing else to show for the first half.

Second quarter scoring didn’t start until there were 22 seconds left in the half. After back-to-back false starts backed the Cardinals up to their 2-yard line, Joshua Liddell was tackled in the end zone for a safety and a 9-8 Ricebirds lead.

Stuttgart’s Jordan Daniels returned the ensuing kick 45 yards to Dollarway’s 16-yard line. With 8 seconds left before halftime, Humbert punched it in for his second touchdowns of the night. He also ran in for the 2-point conversion and a 17-8 halftime lead.

Lee said his team thought they had the momentum with an 8-7 lead before the scoring burst put them in a two-score hole, but was proud again that the Cardinals fought back.

“It meant a lot, because we thought we had the momentum,” Lee said of his team’s refusal to let the scores affect the Cardinals. “We got down a little bit, but when we went inside (the locker room), we said that we were going to come out here and set the tone, and we did that.”

The third quarter went scoreless until Jeremiah Young’s 16-yard touchdown run with 1:18 left in the quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Dollarway got its eventual game-winning score when Addison Grandy went 44 yards with 6:17 left in the game. After a fumble recovery for the Cardinals, Young scored his second touchdown of the half with a 47-yard burst.

Stuttgart answered that score on the next offensive play, as Waylon Johnson caught a screen pass from Dontrell Brown for a 55-yard touchdown that cut Dollarway’s lead to 26-23. That was as close as the Ricebirds would get.

After the game, as Lee was serenaded with chants from the many Dollarway faithful who made the 45-minute trip to Stuttgart, the coach said this team has told him from the first day of football that they wanted to be in this position.