Leader Blues

Friday, August 25, 2006

SPORTS >>Devils close to big plays

IN SHORT: Jacksonville didn’t score, but showed promise in its scrimmage against Wildcats.

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

Jacksonville’s offense continued to struggle in game-type situations Thursday night in the Red Devils’ benefit scrimmage against North Little Rock, but did show improvement. After a poor showing last Saturday in the red-white game, Jacksonville failed to score Thursday against the Charging Wildcats, but came very close to making some big plays. Getting the offense in gear is now just a matter of fine tuning, according to head coach Mark Whatley.

“We had some chances to make some big plays, we just missed one tiny little thing or another that kept that from happening,” Whatley said.

The head Red Devil was still very optimistic and encouraged afterwards.

“The biggest thing is we competed well and we learned where to go from here. We got us a starting point and now we’re going to try to get better and be ready for Cabot, who is a much-improved football team.”

The final score was 23-0, but only six of NLR’s points were against Jacksonville’s varsity defense. The Wildcats scored on a 46-yard field goal by Andy Keeling after a junior-varsity possession, and hit a 59-yard touchdown pass in JV action.

The Wildcat offense busted one long run on the varsity squad late in the third quarter, a 56-yard touchdown scamper by Tim Dunn. The other touchdown was a screen pass by Hubbbard that was picked off by NLR’s Darius Thomas and returned 50 yards for the score.

Dropped passes were one of the biggest problems in the game, but the Red Devils have caught the ball well all summer and in the preseason.

One of the most encouraging aspects of Thursday’s scrimmage was the amount of time quarterback Daniel Hubbard had to throw the ball. Hubbard was rarely under heavy pressure, and was sacked just once. The senior QB threw well most of the game, but two bad passes cost the Red Devils.

The first was on the first drive of the game. Hubbard rolled to his right and had senior receiver Marcus King wide open in the end zone also rolling right. The throw was just a bit too far to the right and King couldn’t catch up to it.
King had an outstanding game, catching six passes for 61 yards, including a 36-yard strike down the right sideline that he had to adjust to and catch in traffic.

The Jacksonville defense performed well for most of the game, besides giving up the one long run, otherwise the Devil D contained the speedy Wildcats well.

Another big plus for Jack-sonville was the play of a few sophomores. Jeffrey Tillman has impressed coaches since practice began, and looked good again Thursday.

Corey Bester led Jacksonville in rushing yards playing with the second team, running mostly against NLR’s second-string defense. Bester finished with 40 yards on six carries, and caught one pass for eight yards.

Junior defensive lineman Bro-derick Mays made two very im-pressive plays. He made a one-armed tackle while being blocked by reaching over his blocker’s shoulder and grabbing the running back. Mays was blocked to the ground, but kept his grip and pulled the back down with him.

He also sacked the Wildcat quarterback for a 12-yard loss on the last play of the game.
Jacksonville gained 186 yards while the Wildcats compiled 266 total yards. Dunn finished with eight carries for 116 yards.