SPORTS >>Lonoke falters in second, loses late
Hot Springs’ no-guts-no-glory approach in the final moments of the game stripped Lonoke of a hard-fought contest, as the Trojans scored on a two-point conversion with 29 seconds left to claim a 36-35 win Friday night at James B. Abraham Stadium in Lonoke.
The Jackrabbits scored what would have been the game-winning touchdown under normal circumstances just three minutes earlier, but the constant yellow laundry and turnovers turned game momentum into a sporadic occurrence for both teams.
Lonoke junior quarterback Rollins Elam snuck in from one-yard out at the 3:15 mark of the fourth quarter to hand the lead back to Lonoke after the Trojans battled back from a 21-7 halftime deficit. Brandon Smith added the two-point conversion to put the ‘Rabbits up by a full-score at 35-28.
The best tale of the tape was penalties. Hot Springs was penalized 11 times for 100 yards; Lonoke had the same amount of flags for 105 yards. The most painful of penalties for Lonoke came at the 7:38 mark of the fourth quarter with the ‘Rabbits trailing the Trojans 28-27.
Hot Springs had just taken its first lead of the game moments earlier with an 18-yard touchdown run by super Trojan Jeremiah Maglero on a reverse handoff from quarterback Desha Willis at the 11:02 mark. Clarence Harris took the handoff from Elam in for a touchdown from 20-yards out, but an illegal block penalty on the ‘Rabbits offensive line brought the play back.
This would give Lonoke a fourth and five situation at the Hot Springs’ 23-yard line, forcing the Jackrabbits to go for it on fourth down. Harris took the direct snap, but was stopped at the line of scrimmage by Trojan linebackers Xzavier Montgomery and Jonathon Seymour.
This gave the Trojans the ball at their own 21-yard line, but another penalty for a face mask set them back at the 6-yard line. Another flag for a false start moments later gave them fourth and 17 to force a punt. The punt shanked, and Lonoke ended up with excellent field position at the Trojans’ 49-yard line.
The air generated all three Lonoke scores in the first half, as Elam went 8 for 13 passing for 128 yards and three touchdowns. The numbers in the second half didn’t quite match up at 3 for 7 for 78 yards and an interception.
The best pass play for Lonoke in the second half that wasn’t brought back for one penalty or another came on the final scoring drive for the ‘Rabbits, as Elam started the drive at the Hot Springs 49-yard line with a pass to Michael Howard.
Howard started on the left side, beating two defenders to the middle of the field at the spot, pulling Elam’s toss for a 44-yard gain that set Lonoke up with first and goal from the 5-yard line.
Three minutes proved to be more than enough time for Hot Springs to respond, as Maglero started the drive with a 20-yard run down the left side. Another run on the right side gave the Trojans first and 10 at the Lonoke 27-yard line.
Willis kept for an 11-yard run on third and four to set up Hot Springs with first and goal from the 8-yard line. Brandon Turner then closed the deal for the Trojans, pulling down a Willis’ hurl from five yards out for the score.
The score pulled the Trojans to within a point, 35-34. The Trojans went against all logic and lined up for a two-point conversion, and put it in the hands of the player who did the most damage for Hot Springs all night.
Maglero took the handoff up the middle, and bulldozed his way through the Lonoke line to put up the final points of the night in the shootout.
Lonoke had a much easier time in the first half. After a scoreless first quarter, the Jackrabbits found success in their passing game. Elam got the first of his three touchdown passes at the 9:30 mark of the second quarter with a 19-yard pass to Daniel Smith up the middle. Smith then added the extra point, giving the ‘Rabbits the first lead of the game at 7-0.
The Lonoke defense then gave good field position back to the offense with a sack on Willis. Joel Harris wrapped up Willis for the sack, jarring the ball loose in the process. Brad Harvey fell on the ball for Lonoke, setting up first down at the Hot Springs 45-yard line.
It only took two plays from there for the next ‘Rabbit touchdown. Harris started the brief drive with a 25-yard run, followed by a pass from Elam to Howard for the score. Another Smith extra-point put Lonoke up 14-0.
The second touchdown pass from Elam to Smith put the Jackrabbits in a seemingly comfortable position with a 21-0 lead, but Maglero put the Trojans on the board for the first time just before the end of the first half with an 11-yard touchdown reception from Willis.
Elam finished the game with 11 completions on 20 attempts for 206 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Trojans QB Willis had 16 completions on 22 attempts for 216 yards and one touchdown. 10 of those completions came in the second half for 157 yards.
Tyler Crow finished with seven carries for 87 yards. For Hot Springs, Maglero had 10 carries for 60 yards and two rushing touchdowns, along with nine receptions for 172 yards and two touchdowns.
Lonoke will host Beebe, a 21-0 winner over Greenbrier, next Friday at Abraham Stadium. The Trojans will host Sheridan, a 14-48 loser to Warren, next week in their home opener.