SPORTS >>Sylvan Hills hammers JHS
Leader sports editor
Call it a coming out party for Sylvan Hills. The Bears went into what was supposed to be an evenly contested game as a slight underdog, and left with a big win in impressive fashion, beating the Jacksonville Red Devils 35-13 at Jan Crow Stadium in Jacksonville.
“I thought if we played well we’d really have a chance to win,” Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow said. “I knew the breaks could go either way and things like that, but I thought if we played well we’d win.”
The Bears did play well. They played so well, that when they scored on the first play of the fourth quarter, it put them up 35-0 and enacted the mercy rule.
Sophomore running back Juliean Broner scored the team’s final touchdown on a two-yard run with 11:56 left in the game. Sophomore place kicker Stephan Kettle nailed his fifth extra point to put the clock in motion.
The Bears’ final touchdown also capped a 24-yard drive, one of several short ones, as Sylvan Hills enjoyed a short field for most of the game. The Bears had only one scoring drive start in their own territory.
“Our defense I thought played their guts out,” Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley said. “We just didn’t help our defense. They were on the field all night. Offensively we’ve got to give them some help. If we don’t do that, it’s going to be awfully hard for our defense.”
Jacksonville did get on the board with two big plays by tailback Patrick Geans. The first scoring drive was set up by a long kickoff return by Stanley Appleby to the Bear 49. Three plays by Geans picked up the whole 49. The first was a 18-yard reception, the second a 16-yard run and the third a 15-yard run for the score.
Sylvan Hills got the ball back and the second string drove six plays and punted. Jacksonville took over on its own 39. After two incomplete passes, Geans ran for four yards and Jacksonville called timeout to stop the clock for one last play. It was another screen to Geans, and went 57 yards for a touchdown on the final play.
After an eventless first quarter, the second quarter belonged to the Bears. Sylvan Hills was driving when the first quarter came to a close. The Bears took over on the Jacksonville 36 after a Patrick Geans fumble. They faced a fourth down and three on the Jacksonville 4-yard line two plays into the second. Quarterback Hunter Miller rolled right looking for a receiver, but found running room instead. After dodging Jacksonville linebacker Jeffrey Tillman at the 5, he trotted into the end zone for the first score of the game.
Stephan Kettle added the extra point to put the Bears up 7-0 with 10:45 left in the first half.
Jacksonville finally got its first first down on the first play of its next drive, but was forced to punt three plays later.
The punt by Cameron Hood was a good one, pinning the Bears on their own 7-yard line, but it only set up one of Sylvan Hills best drives of the season.
The drive took 11 plays, and ended when Miller hit Clint Thornton over the middle. Thornton broke one tackle after the catch and raced the final 20 yards to complete the 42-yard scoring hookup.
Early in the drive, Sylvan Hills converted a drive-saving third and 11 when Lawrence Hodges picked up 15 yards on a screen pass to give his team first down at the 33.
Thornton’s touchdown came with 2:55 left in the half and capped the 7-minute drive. Kettle’s extra point made it 14-0.
Jacksonville took over at its own 20, and finally got a drive going. The Red Devils got some luck on their side on a third and 9 play from midfield. A Thomas Blade pass was tipped high up in the air about 20 yards downfield, but it came down square onto the numbers of receiver Demetris Harris, who had fallen and was lying on his back. It was a 22-yard reception and gave Jacksonville a first down at the Bear 27, but the Devils went backwards from there, way backwards.
The drive ended back at midfield after an incomplete pass, a screen pass completion for negative eight yards, a sack by Michael Robinson for a loss of five, and a sack by Thornton for a loss of 10 that ended the half.
Sylvan Hills took the ball to start the second half on its own 40, and drove all the way to the Jacksonville 1-yard line, only to come up empty. Miller fumbled the snap on fourth and inches and Tillman covered it at the 2 for the Red Devils.
Although the Sylvan Hills offense didn’t get it in, the defense did. On Jacksonville’s very first snap, Cameron Hood went under center for a quarterback keeper designed just to get the ball off the goal line. Instead, Hood was stood up by one defender, and leveled by another, forcing a fumble that Thornton covered in the end zone for his second touchdown of the game.
That made it 21-0 with 8:40 left in the third quarter.
Jacksonville again got some offense going briefly, but again ended up going backwards. On fourth down from the Sylvan Hills 30, Blade was sacked again, this time for an 18-yard loss. He was also called for intentional grounding, which gave the Bears possession on Jacksonville’s 47-yard line.
Sylvan Hills made this drive look easy, going 47 yards in five plays, with Miller scrambling up the middle for the final 20 with 4:52 remaining in the third.
Hodges led the Bears with 98 yards on 19 carried. Hunter Miller finished with 80 yards on 14 totes and threw for 87 yards and a touchdown on 6 of 10 passing.
Geans led all yardage gainers. The Red Devil tailback actually finished with one more total yard than the Jacksonville offense. He carried 10 times for 74 yards and a touchdown, and caught three passes for 76 yards and a score, giving him 150 all purpose yards.
Jacksonville finished with 149 total yards as a team, with 110 coming on the last two drives.
Sylvan Hills finished with 289 total yards.
The Bears will be back at home against Forrest City next week. The Mustangs beat Marion 42-28 last night. Jacksonville will travel to Searcy, who suffered a 51-0 loss to West Memphis.