Leader Blues

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

SPORTS >> N. Pulaski remembers last season at Lonoke

By RAY BENTON and JASON KING
Leader sports staff

North Pulaski will host a battle of the hungry teams searching for their first victory when the Lonoke Jackrabbits travel to Jacksonville to face the Falcons on Friday night.

Last year’s game was a shootout, with Lonoke winning after a couple of controversial calls. A North Pulaski touchdown was called back when officials called a defensive delay of game on Lonoke, a penalty North Pulaski coach Tony Bohannon disputes..

“Defensive delay of game does exist,” Bohan-non said. “It results in a forfeit. It’s called when the defense fails to return to the field after a timeout. The one they called I’ve never heard of. They just made one up that night.”

It was one of two calls that has the Falcons rehashing last year’s game. The other was a block in the back call during a kickoff return for a touchdown by Rodric Rainey.
“We have the film on that game, and the official that threw the flag wasn’t anywhere near what was going on. He was about 25 yards behind the play, and from where he was, there’s no way he could have seen anything. There was no penalty on that play.”

Bohannon also says his team has brought it up this week.
“There’s a couple that are talking about it,” Bohannon said. “They all remember it, and if they don’t remember it, they know about it. I don’t know how much of a factor it will be as far as motivation, but it’s been brought up a couple times.”

Both teams are looking for momentum to get their seasons on track. Lonoke is coming off a heart-breaking loss at the hands of Beebe. Lonoke had the lead and the ball late in the game, but a turnover deep in their own territory gave the Badgers a second chance. The Badgers used the opportunity, as well as using up the clock, to steal the game away from the Jackrabbits in their home opener.

North Pulaski has had even less to cheer about so far in 2005, losing their season opener to Little Rock Hall 44-0, and last week’s meeting against crosstown rival Jacksonville 44-7. Although the losses have not been close, they have both been against class AAAAA programs. Facing a class AAA team this week could be considered a break for North Pulaski, but that’s not how Bohannon looks at it.
“They’re not quite as big as they were last year, but they’re pretty good,” Bohannon said. “They’re still capable of putting a lot of points on the board. They had a bad break against Beebe that I think cost them the game.”

While he’s not taking Lonoke lightly, he does recognize some differences between the AAA school and the two AAAAA schools his team has already played.
“Sizewise I think we match up better with them than the other two we’ve played,” Bohannon said. “We’re not going to be dwarfed down inside like we have been.”
Lonoke had high expectations going into this season, with their sights on a conference title. While two non-conference losses does not necessarily put that out of reach, it is obvious at this point that the Jackrabbits will have to step things up on both sides of the ball before facing conference powerhouses Central Arakansas Christian and Pulaski Academy.

Much of the Lonoke offense has revolved around senior tailback Walter Ellis. Ellis scored all of Lonoke’s points in the Beebe contest, and carried the ball over 20 times. Ellis has rushed for over 250 yards so far this season. Beebe seemed to get Ellis’ number rather early last Friday, holding him to less than three yards on several carries, but he still ran for over 100 yards.

The biggest variable in Lonoke’s offense will be the passing game. Quarterback Byron Jackson led a passing attack that looked promising in the pre-season, but so far hasn’t produced like head coach Marcel Vincent was expecting in the regular season.

“We have to execute better, that’s the bottom line,” Vincent said. “I think confidence will be a major factor for us, especially after a tough loss like last week. It was a great ball game, but losing like that can really take the wind out of your sails.”