SPORTS >>Bears get a score in fourth for upset win
By JACOB SCHIMMEL
Special to The Leader
Sylvan Hills ended their season with a big win over Jonesboro, knocking the Golden Hurricane out of playoff contention.
In a game where the Ron Sebastian led Bears could have packed it in for the season, they show-ed tremendous determination and scored all their points in the final eight minutes of the game to win 20-9. Sylvan Hills (4-6, 3-4) ends the season strong and finishes in 5th place in the 6A East Conference. Jonesboro (5-5, 3-4) finishes in 6th place.
Sylvan Hills surprised Jonesboro by recovering an onside kick to start the game. However, the Bears couldn’t capitalize and had to punt after going three and out. The Bears quarterback and punter Hunter Miller has missed the last several games after undergoing knee surgery. His absence was felt as the Bears got two false-start penalties on their opening drive, and had their punt blocked.
This gave Jonesboro excellent field position for their opening drive. Running back David Terrell carried the ball on eight of the Golden Hurricane’s 10 plays on the drive. This set up an 18-yard field goal for Carter Callahan.
Sylvan Hills had a nice drive on their next possession, but it stalled at the Jonesboro 19-yard line. The Jonesboro defensive line contained the Bears’ offense for all of the first half.
Late in the second quarter, Sylvan Hills fumbled at its own 34-yard line. The Bears’ defense looked like it was going to hold the Golden Hurricane, but Jonesboro was able to complete a big 11-yard pass play on fourth down that set up a six-yard touchdown run by Terrell. The extra point was no good and Jonesboro led 9-0 at the half.
Sylvan Hills came out moving the ball well in the second half. Two drives stalled in Hurricane territory, but they showed they could penetrate the tough Jonesboro defense.
Early in the fourth quarter the Bears finally reached the end zone. T.J. Shelton found Kenny Bir for a 26-yard touchdown reception. Shelton laid the ball out in front of Bir, Bir made a great fingertip catch at the 5-yard line, and he tiptoed down the sideline into the endzone. A failed two-point conversion pulled the Bears to within 9-6 with 8:02 remaining in the game.
“The touchdown pass just ignited the team,” said Bears coach Ron Sebastian. “From then on in we just completely controlled the game.” The Bears defense played its best eight minutes of the year.
After forcing Jonesboro to a three-and-out, Jeff Henderson took a pitch around the left side 66 yards for a touchdown with 6:39 to play in the game. A missed extra point made the Sylvan Hills’ lead 12-9.
The Bears’ defense came out again and pushed Jonesboro back to its own 1-yard line and forced a punt. Sylvan Hills ate up most of the remaining clock before Henderson scored on another pitch to the left side with 1:44 left in the game. Henderson added a two-point conversion and that made the final score 20-9.
Bears senior quarterback T.J. Shelton was focused. “I had to go out with a win. I wasn’t going out with a loss.”
Henderson finished with 113 yards rushing. Shelton had 57 yards rushing and 71 yards passing. Terrell led Jonesboro with 97 yards rushing and quarterback Delta Cleary had 16yards rushing and 41 yards passing.
“Our kids struggled in the first half,” said coach Sebastian. “Jonesboro ran the ball right at us. We asked our kids at halftime to make a few adjustments and go out and play hard and they responded.”