SPORTS >>Lonoke hounded, pounded
NEWPORT — Halloween has come and gone, but the orange and black attack was still in full force Friday night at Greyhound Field, as Newport kept its unbeaten record intact with a dominant 48-6 win over Lonoke to claim outright possession of the 4A-2 Conference championship. The theme of the game was a simple one; the Lonoke defense giving chase to Newport running backs Nico Cox and Chris Crite. Cox blistered the Jackrabbits with 16 carries for 165 yards and four rushing touchdowns, along with one reception for 24 yards and another touchdown.
Crite actually generated more yardage than Cox in the game with 20 carries for 183 yards and a touchdown, but it was the senior Cox that made the most of the big plays for the Greyhounds.
The Greyhounds took little time getting on the scoreboard with a three-play, 60-yard drive during the first possession of the game. Cox found plenty of room down the right side on the first Newport drive, taking the first play from scrimmage 29 yards into Lonoke territory.
Cox found the end zone for the first time two plays later with a 19-yard touchdown run on a pitch from quarterback Edward Pruitt with 11:15 left in the first quarter.
The Jackrabbits would not come up completely empty handed in the first quarter. Lonoke quarterback Jacob Taylor found Daniel Smith for an 80-yard touchdown pass down the right side. Smith caught the lob in coverage by Donell Swanson, and zig-zagged across the right side to avoid the tackle to go in untouched for the score.
Smith also lined up to kick the extra point, but the Jackrabbits tried the fumble-rooskie for two points. Smith picked up the ball and found a hole, but the Greyhound defense stopped him just short of the line. That would keep the score at 7-6, but only for a short period of time.
Cox’s next score came with 55 seconds left in the opening quarter when Pruitt found him on an in route to the end zone. Cox beat the coverage to the throw, and only had to step over the goal line after the reception for the second Newport touchdown of the night. An offsides penalty moved the ball close to the 1-yard line for the extra-point try, and Newport took advantage by running in the two-point conversion with a keeper by Pruitt to make it 15-6 Newport.
What few Lonoke pass plays survived the Greyhounds’ monstrous blitz could not get past the equally impressive secondary for Newport.
Taylor spent most of his time in the early going suffering the abuse of Newport linebackers Clyde Dean and Donell Swanson. The pair sliced through the Lonoke offensive line on a number of pass plays to deny Taylor of a good look downfield.
The Jackrabbits did manage to catch a break in the opening moments of the second quarter. Newport drove down to Lonoke’s 23-yard line with the threat of a third score, but Pruitt fumbled on a keep, and Alvin Farmer was there to cover for the Jackrabbits, giving them the ball at their own 13-yard line.
Lonoke was forced to punt after an incomplete pass to Smith on third and two, and Cox put the Greyhounds up by three scores moments later with another touchdown run to the left side, this time from 24 yards out for the score with 7:34 left in the first half.
Cox put one more touchdown on the board for the Greyhounds before the intermission with a six-yard run at the 2:25 mark of the second quarter to give Newport a 28-6 lead at the half.
Lonoke got the ball to start the second half, and got one first down before three straight incompletions stalled the drive at the Jackrabbit 20-yard line. The ensuing punt gave Newport good field position at the Lonoke 43-yard line, setting up yet another TD scramble by Cox. This one would come from 30 yards out, and a three-yard touchdown run by Crite later in the period with 2:55 left in the third would activate the mercy rule against the Jackrabbits for the first time all season.
For whatever reason, the Greyhounds decided to add insult to injury in the fourth quarter with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Dean that was set up by an interception by Swanson.
Newport finished with 460 yards of total offense, compared to 196 yards for Lonoke. Smith led the Jackrabbits with three receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown. Newport finished the regular season with a perfect record of 10-0 overall and 7-0 in the 4A-2 Conference. Lonoke’s record fell to 7-3 overall and 6-1 in conference.