Leader Blues

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

SPORTS>> Early score just enough for Rhinos

Leader sportswriter

A 13-yard touchdown run by Jerald Marshall at the 5:10 mark of the first quarter ended up as the Arkansas Rhinos’ only score of the game, but it was just enough to pull out a 7-6 win against the Tri-City Clarksville Knights on Saturday at Red Devil Field.

Daniel Brown was the defensive hero when he stuffed a potential go-ahead 2-point conversion attempt by the Knights late in the game.

The Rhinos’ touchdown culminated a march of 80 yards in eight plays and six minutes for what proved the winning score after they turned the ball over on their first possession of the game.

Marshall was the Rhinos’ workhorse all night. He carried 21 times for 194 yards, and was the only consistent chain mover all night.

At 5-10 and 212 pounds, Marshall may not be the biggest runner in the North America Football League, but Rhinos head coach Oscar Malone said his contribution to the team has been vital since joining the squad just before the second game of the season.

“Jerald has really stepped itup,” Malone said. “If we can ever get some kind of crease going for him, he can really do some things. He’s not a huge runner, but he definitely plays bigger than what he is.”

Further scoring opportunities were plentiful for the Rhinos, especially in the third quarter, but two straight touchdown plays were called back for penalties. What would have been Marshall’s second TD run of the night was called back on a hold, and a 30-yard pass from Jeremiah Crouch to wide receiver Kamal Broadway one play later came back on the same infraction.

That led to a 56-yard field goal attempt by Garrett Morgan with 2:22 left in the third, but Morgan sent the ball just under the crossbar.

Penalties ended up as the theme for the night, as the Rhinos were flagged 15 times for 115 yards, while the Knights had seven flags for 60 yards. There were several more offsetting personal foul penalties.

In all, Malone was pleased to see the increase in offensive yardage, but was upset over the frequent laundry on Saturday.
“It’s all about having the right attitude,” Malone offered. “The defense has done great, but offensively, when you get out of shape, you get lazy. We kept pulling down, and getting caught. It’s not a hold until you get caught, we just got caught a little too often.”

Tri-City’s offense stumbled all night at the hands of the Rhinos defense, led by Enrico Williams’ 11 ½ tackle performance, but the Knights’ special teams were able to sneak one by on Arkansas’ punt unit with 7:51 left to play in the contest on an 81-yard punt return by Tim Whorton after another Rhinos’ drive stalled due to penalties.

The Knights attempted a fake on the extra-point attempt, but Rhinos defender Daniel Brown stopped holder Brian Richardson in his tracks.

Brown also netted an interception to start the third quarter. The Knights took possession to start the second half, and quickly moved into Rhinos’ territory on a pair of pass plays, but Tri-City QB Jonathon Asworth’s throw into the Arkansas secondary resulted in a pick by Brown.

It was the only turnover in the Rhinos’ favor all night, and killed the only offensive momentum shown by Clarksville in the entire contest.

Marshall led the Rhinos offensively. Crouch completed 4 of 10 pass attempts for 84 yards and an interception. Broadway had four receptions for 84 yards. Tony Phillips had seven carries for 41 yards. The Rhinos had 366 yards of total offense.

Arkansas is now 3-2 on the season, and will host the Memphis Panthers this Saturday at Red Devil Field for military appreciation night. Tickets will be $3 for all attending, including adult admission.

The Panthers handed Arkansas its first loss of the season in a 19-17 decision in late July.