High School Football

Cooper and Hayes spark big nights for Dunbar in playoff-clinching victory

Fort Worth Dunbar wide receiver Jeremiah Hayes’ big plays early and quarterback Leon’te Cooper’s big night propelled the Wildcats into the playoffs as Dunbar downed Fort Worth Western Hills, 40-14, in a District 6-4A Division I game Thursday at Farrington Field.

Hayes scored twice late in the first half for Dunbar (4-4 overall, 3-2 District 6-4A Division I) to build a 20-7 lead at the intermission.

A 59-yard run by Hayes, two plays after Western Hills (3-6, 0-5) had taken a 7-6 lead, gave the lead back to the Wildcats at the 5:37 mark of the second quarter. Following a Cougar punt on their next series, Hayes took a swing pass from Leon’te Cooper 83 yards for a score with 1:56 left in the half.

Western Hills looked to have taken the momentum back after Cougar defensive back Lazarus Wilson picked off a pass at the goal line and returned it 99 yards to the Dunbar one. Three plays later Jonathan Banks bulled in for a 7-6 lead with 6:07 left in the second frame.

Leon’te Cooper took over in the second half scoring on a 45-yard run and tossing two TD passes. Cooper accounted for five TDs on the night.

Dunbar’s finale at Lake Worth on Nov. 9 will now just be a seeding game for third and fourth place in district.

Game was over when: Following Lakeithan Tarkington’s third interception of the night, at the Western Hills 15 yard line, Leon’te Cooper hit Julius Tolbert on the next play to give Dunbar a 34-14 lead with 1:51 left in the third quarter.

Play of the game: It was in a losing effort, but Lazarus Wilson’s interception at the goal line was big at the time. He picked the ball off before racing down the sideline only to be caught and shoved out of bounds at the Dunbar one. The Cougars scored and were up 7-6 with 6:07 left in the second quarter.

Offensive player of the game: Leon’te Cooper was 8-of-17 passing for 212 yards and four touchdowns. Cooper added 82 rushing yards on 11 carries and had a 45-yard scoring run. Julius Tolbert had a 15-yard touchdown reception and Aaron Cooper scored from 23 yards out to cap the scoring with 10:43 left in the game. Aaron Cooper also started the scoring on a 16-yard pass from Leon’te Cooper with 49 seconds left in the first quarter.

Defensive player of the game: Dunbar defensive back Lakeithan Tarkington’s three interceptions, two deep in Wildcat territory, helped Dunbar keep Western Hills out of the end zone. The Wildcats allowed 57 total yards in the first half and 175 for the game.

Unsung hero of the game: The Dunbar secondary picked off five Western Hills passes.

What’s next? Dunbar will close out the regular season, traveling to Lake Worth at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9. Western Hills will host Fort Worth Diamond Hill-Jarvis at Scarborough-Handley Field on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 1 p.m.

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