STAR CITY — After all the drama that took place at Bulldog Stadium on Friday night, the 8-4A Conference race just got a little more wide open.

STAR CITY — After all the drama that took place at Bulldog Stadium on Friday night, the 8-4A Conference race just got a little more wide open.


An amazing 43-yard catch by Blake Wynn over the head of a defender to the Dollarway 1 set up L.J. Shelton’s go-ahead rush with 2:10 left, and Star City survived a frantic remainder of the game to hand Dollarway its first conference loss in two years, 24-20.


The win moved Star City (6-2, 3-2 in 8-4A) up to fourth place in the 8-4A, while the loss now forces Dollarway (6-2, 4-1) to win its two remaining games to clinch the 8-4A championship, which would be the third in a row it either shared or won outright. The loss also ended the Cardinals’ conference winning streak at 13, dating back to a 2012 loss to eventual state champion Stuttgart.


Oh, but it did not come without some fisticuffs and controversy.


A brawl broke out shortly after the ensuing kickoff return, resulting in ejections for Star City’s Beau Warren and Dollarway’s Franklin Jiles. Both are expected to miss their next games as a result.


Both head coaches could see something brewing as the game wore on.


"I’m not going to get into particulars, but they were pushing several times," Dollarway coach Cortez Lee said. "It’s not my job to sit here and criticize an official or anything like that. But when you sit here and let a climate go on like that, you should expect things to happen like that."


Said Star City’s Jett Furneaux: "You could tell the emotions were high for both teams. Dollarway and Star City is usually, except for last year (a 36-0 Dollarway win in the 4A quarterfinals), a good game. Both teams know each other (with) Pine Bluff being so close. It was an emotional game. Some heads flared. It’s just the way it is."


This was the first conference meeting between the teams since 2011 and 18th since 1991. Dollarway played in the 2-4A the past two years.


Dollarway started to move in the right direction on the final drive after a 15-yard late hit at the end of a 17-yard Henri Murphy reception placed the ball on the Bulldogs’ 36. But back-to-back holding penalties stunted the drive, only for a 15-yard face mask to wipe out a Bulldogs sack and push the ball back to the host team’s 47.


Lineman C.J. Everett came through for Star City with a sack of Simeon Blair back into Dollarway territory. Without a timeout to call, Blair then connected with Murphy on a 26-yarder to the Star City 32 with 3 seconds left.


"Once Murphy caught that little screen, I was a little worried because he was making everybody miss," Furneaux said. "We were able to tackle him, they had some penalties go against them that backed them up a little bit and put them in a more throw situation. Heck of a ballgame, both teams."


But Dollarway could not get another play off before the final horn.


"That guy told my player, ‘Wait ‘til I spot the ball. Wait ‘til I blow the whistle," Lee said. "And my guy was sitting up there, and he’s like ‘You can’t hike the ball until I blow the whistle.’ You can hike the ball. The ball was spotted."


Shelton had 20 carries for 56 yards, but had to take over as the feature back after fellow senior Dajunn Harris was injured on defense one play into the fourth quarter. Harris, who had missed last Friday’s game against Dumas, had 15 carries and two touchdowns for 90 yards, putting him 8 yards shy of 1,000 for this season.


Furneaux said Harris re-injured his left ankle on the play, which was a 4-yard touchdown run by Markell Scott.


The Bulldogs took the first 9:13 of the third period off the clock covering 76 yards in 16 plays, all but one of which were rushes. Erick Estaban converted a 21-yard field goal to expand the lead to 17-8.


Markell Scott quickly shortened the gap to 17-14 on his 4-yard touchdown carry. Star City was forced to punt on its next series, and Dollarway capitalized at the 7:59 mark when Murphy dove for the pylon on the end of a 20-yard catch-and-run.


But the Bulldogs caught a big break with 6:06 remaining when Wynn recovered a fumble at the end of a 23-yard carry by Keshawn Williams near midfield. Eight plays later, Star City was back in front.


Harris had four carries for 26 yards on the Bulldogs’ first possession of the game, capping it with a 5-yard touchdown run.


Lineman Donald Robinson Jr. later returned an interception 50 yards to the Bulldogs’ 42, but the Cardinals went four-and-out. In the second period, Star City found itself in trouble with a second-and-27, but Tye Brown connected with Wynn open in the left flat, and the junior moved the ball 76 yards to the Dollarway 11. Two plays later, Harris had his second 4-yard scoring run.


Dollarway quickly responded. After Scott dragged defenders all the way past midfield on a 32-yard run, the Cards converted their first fourth down and eventually scored on a 13-yard Williams tote with 1:45 left before the break. Scott rushed for the extra two points.


Lee said being shut out in the first quarter for the first time this year didn’t surprise his team.


"We understood this was going to be a game in hostile territory," Lee said. "It’s just a part of the process."


As for the Bulldogs, they’ve bounced back nicely with their second straight win after two costly defeats.


"It’s probably the first time we played four quarters all year," Furneaux said. "Our kids, they’re resilient, and we told them this conference is so tough. You know, Warren, Dollarway, us … Crossett’s playing well. They know it’s just a build-up for the playoffs, and every team that makes the playoffs is going to be battle-tested and have a chance to make some long runs."


Williams collected 53 yards on six rushes. Scott had 48 yards on eight carries and a 40-yard reception, and Blair completed 8 of 15 for 193 yards. Kendrick Hunter also had an interception for the Cardinals.


Brown completed 11 of 15 for 113 yards with two picks.


Hamburg (6-2, 4-1), which beat Crossett 43-13, also moved back in contention for at least a piece of the title thanks in part to Star City’s upset win. Hamburg will face first-place Warren (6-2, 5-0) next Friday. Dollarway closes the regular season at home against Warren on Nov. 6.