SPORTS >>Incomplete two-point conversion costs ’Rabs
By JASON KING
Leader staff writer
It was an offensive shootout, but the Jackrabbits needed just one more round of ammo Friday night to pull out the win over Marianna at Abraham Field in Lonoke. The ‘Rabbits pulled to within two off of a one-yard touchdown run from Clarence Harris with 1:09 left in the game, but quarterback Alex Cash’s pass to Rollins Elam in the end zone on the two-point conversion attempt fell just short, and Marianna barely held on in the final minute to claim a 42-40 win.
Turnovers were a huge part of the outcome on Friday. Lonoke committed fewer than the Trojans, but the ‘Rabbits’ gifts came at more vital stages of the game, and carried larger consequences.
Lonoke was on the good side of the turnover spectrum during the first 24 minutes, taking advantage of two fumbles from Marianna’s standout tailback Cameron Greer. Greer cleared over 100 yards rushing in the first half, but his two fumbles gave the Jackrabbits good field position.
Harris recovered the first fumble at the Marianna 35-yard line at the 2:12 mark of the first quarter, but the ‘Rabbits went three and out before punting back to the Trojans. Marianna took over at its own 7, but two runs from Greer quickly brought it out to the 30-yard line. Greer’s number was called a third time, and he coughed it up once again. This time, senior linebacker Amir Fleming fell on the ball for Lonoke to give the ‘Rabbits possession at the Trojans’ 29-yard line.
Lonoke made good on the opportunity this time with a 19-yard touchdown run from tailback Wendall Scales two plays into the second quarter. The two-point attempt was unsuccessful, leaving the score 14-8 in favor of Lonoke.
The turnover factor was an issue right from the start of the second half, but this time it was Lonoke giving away the ball. The Jackrabbits retained possession to start out the third quarter, but a fumble from junior running back Tyler Crow was scooped up by Marianna linebacker Channin Hardin and run back 35 yards for the score. The two-point attempt was unsuccessful, and the score remained tied at 20-20.
Scales scored again for Lonoke with 7:52 left in the game to put the ‘Rabbits up by eight, but Marianna refused to give up.
Not even a fumble by Greer on the Lonoke 5-yard line caused the Trojans to lose momentum. Glenn Evans recovered the fourth Greer fumble for the ‘Rabbits, but they went backwards on the ensuing drive. Brock Clement was forced to punt standing directly in front of the goal post, giving Marianna good field position once again at the Lonoke 32-yard line.
Greer held on to it this time, running on four of the six plays of the drive, including the touchdown run from four yards out with 4:42 left in the game. QB Hardin kept on the two-point attempt, and ran over Lonoke defender Josh Martin to cross the goal line and tie the score at 34 all.
The most vital turnover of the game occurred on Lonoke’s next possession. With the Jackrabbits driving into Trojan territory, Cash threw into coverage, and Hardin picked it off. Hardin took the ball all the way down to the Lonoke 3-yard line, where Greer ran it in for another score two plays later. Hardin kept once again for the two-point attempt, running it in to give the Trojans an eight-point lead.
Lonoke answered right back with a nine-play drive, highlighted by two big passes from Cash. The first one was to Clement on third and 10 at the Lonoke 36. Clement grabbed it at the Marianna 36 before being pushed out of bounds. Cash then found Ryan Hobson two plays later on a 22-yard pass play that gave the ‘Rabbits first and goal at the 10. Cash kept twice to get to the 1-yard line before giving it to Harris for the score. Lonoke went for the game-tying play on the two-point conversion, but the Trojans’ coverage was solid in the end zone, and Elam couldn’t come up with the toss from Cash.
Poor time management from Marianna gave Lonoke one last shot on a Trojans’ punt with eight seconds left in the game.
Alvin Farmer pulled down the squibbed punt from Hardin at the Lonoke 46 and returned it all the way to Marianna’s 12-yard line. Farmer’s run was stopped after the horn sounded with a shove out of bounds from Hardin to end the dramatic game.
Both teams scored on their opening drives to set the tone in the shootout. Marianna took first possession and went 64 yards on 10 plays, most of them runs from Greer. Hardin kept for the score from one yard out with 7:09 left in the opening quarter.
Lonoke quickly answered with an eight-play, 72-yard drive that was capped off with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Cash to Hobson on the left side at the 5:17 mark of the first quarter.
With Lonoke leading 20-14 with less than a minute left in the first half, Farmer prevented the tie with an interception in the end zone on a pass intended for Anthony Allison. The ‘Rabbits ran out the remaining 22 seconds left on the clock to take the six-point halftime lead.
Cash completed 14 of 28 pass attempts for 188 yards and one touchdown, along with one interception. He also carried 11 times for 36 yards and one rushing touchdown. Harris finished with 11 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown, and Scales had 12 carries for 64 yards and three touchdowns. For Marianna, Greer had 30 carries for 185 yards, two touchdowns and three fumbles, giving him over 1,330 yards so far on the season.
The win improves Marianna’s record to 6-1 overall and 5-0 in the 4A-2 Conference. Lonoke’s record now moves to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in conference. The Jackrabbits will travel to Stuttgart to face the undefeated Ricebirds next week.