SPORTS >>Big first half lifts Bears over Lions
By RYAN CHRISTENSEN
Special to The Leader
The Sylvan Hills Bears took a victory over the Searcy Lions, despite a fourth quarter comeback attempt Friday night. Neither team is in a position to make it to the playoffs, but you couldn’t tell it from the way the teams played in their 6A East matchup at a muddy Bill Blackwood field.
Searcy received the opening kickoff and was held to four plays and 14 yards. The 14 yards gained would be out of a first-half total of twenty-four yards for the Lions. The Bears’ defense held strong early in the game and the offense would follow. On their first drive, they used a good combination of passing and rushing to gain 33 yards and get to the Lions’ 20-yard line.
They looked strong and were in scoring position, but gave the ball up before they could make it into the end zone. Searcy obtained the ball on their 10-yard line, but was unable to capitalize on the Bears’ turnover, going three and out on their second offensive drive.
The Lions punted into a stiff west wind, but were able to get the ball into Bears’ territory on the fourth-down kick. Sylvan Hills kept the ball on the ground in the drive and used an end around by Jeff Henderson to pick up 20 yards, and the largest gain of the drive.
They rushed for 53 yards and capped the drive off with a one- yard run for a touchdown by quarterback T. J Shelton to make the score 7-0.
The Lions ran the Bears’ kick to their own 35-yard line, but was unable to use the good field position to their advantage. They would have a high snap bring them back to their own 17-yard line on third down before having their punt blocked on fourth down. The Bears were only twelve yards out, but the Lions held the them to fourth and seven. Henderson then used his speed to get to the sideline and pick up the final seven yards to make the score 14-0 and end the first quarter of play.
The Lions had some good plays on their next drive, but lost some traction and could only pick up one first down before punting the ball on their own 48-yard line. The Bears would again keep it on the ground on their next drive.
Neil rushed four times in the drive gaining 44 of the 75 yards necessary to get six more points and make the score 20-0 with 4:41 left in the half.
Searcy came out passing trying to pick up some yards and stretch out the last four minutes of the first half, but only completed one of four passes for twelve yards.
The Bears received the Lions’ punt with 2:25 left in the first half, but were stopped on the Lions’ 10- yard line before time expired for the first half. The first twenty four minutes of play were totally dominated by the Bears. They were able to gain 194 total yards and keep the Lions to a mere 24 total offensive yards.
According to Searcy coach Bart McFarland the Lions had an “attitude adjustment” at halftime. This showed in Searcy’s defensive stands in the second half.
The Lions were able to stop the Bears on four offensive drives in the second half verses one stop due to a fumble in the first half. The Lions showed the defensive changes in the first Bears’ drive.
They held Sylvan Hills to three and out with only six positive yards. The half started great, but Lions quarterback threw a pass that was tipped and intercepted by Bears defender Cameron Robinson.
Robinson ran the interception down to the Lions 17-yard line. The Bears picked up the remaining yards with Henderson and Neal to put the score at 26-0 with 8:40 left in the third quarter. Both teams were hindered by penalties in their next two drives and were both forced to punt.
The Lions offense started to show some progress late in the third quarter. They were able to pick up 50 yards thanks to some good passes by quarterback Justin Rowden and a defensive pass- interference call on the Bears.
The Lions went for it on fourth down from six yards out, but gave up the ball on downs after they were held short by a strong Bears’ goal line defense.
The turnover left the Bears with very little backfield to work with and picked up only a yard on the possession. The Bears’ punt was into the stiff west wind and short, only going ten yards.
This was the spark the Lions had been looking for.
They completed one pass to Easton Valentine for 17 yards and six points.
The Lions’ first score of the game made the score 26-6 with 10:57 left in the game. The Lions would attempt an onside kick, but it was covered by the Bears on the 50-yard line.
Sylvan Hills was not about to roll over for the Lions. On the Bears’ next drive they pitched the ball to running back Lawrence Hodges from 35 yards out to pick up six points of their own to make the score 32-6 with 8:10 left in the game.
The Lions would again rely on the pass in their next drive, going five for eleven passing for 45 yards and another Valentine touchdown.
Searcy closed the gap slightly with a score of 32-12. The Bears picked up the Lions’ second onside kick, but fumbled the ball on their third play from scrimmage.
The fumble was picked up by Andy Garlington for the Lions and run the 50 yards for a touchdown leaving the score at 32-20 with 4:17 left to play in the game.
Trying to mount a comeback, the Lions tried another onside kick, but the Bears again recovered it. The hope of a last quarter comeback was silenced by a final time-consuming drive by the Bears, going 45 yards and taking 4:17 off the clock to keep the final score at 32-20.