Leader Blues

Saturday, September 27, 2008

SPORTS>>Devils bounce back in a big way

By RAY BENTON
For the Leader

Having a sophomore quarterback can sometimes be a roller coaster ride for coaches. For Jacksonville, that ride hit a high peak Friday night as the Red Devils opened conference play with a 42-17 win at home against Mountain Home, led by a stellar performance from sophomore Jacksonville QB Logan Perry.

Perry hit 14 of 15 pass attempts for 260 yards and four touchdowns in leading the Devils to the 6A-East win. He hit senior receiver Demetris Harris with six of those passes for 180 yards and all four touchdowns.

“He came back and had a great night after having a tough night last week at Mills,” Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley said. “I was real pleased with him. He did some things real well tonight. The line did outstanding tonight giving him some time and he did a good job of moving around in the pocket and putting the ball where it needed to be.”

Jacksonville scored on the first play of its first drive when Perry found Harris over the top for 69 yards. They followed that by scoring touchdowns on all six subsequent drives.

The game was tight in the first half, with both offenses moving the ball with relative ease. Jacksonville took a 21-10 lead into the half thanks to two defensive stands deep in its own territory. The Bombers settled for three after one stalled drive, but it was the second stand that sparked the route that ensued.

The Bombers had first and goal at the Jacksonville 2-yard line and got no further. Junior Caleb Miller stopped Bomber fullback Chase Walker for a 3-yard loss on first down. Walker went nowhere again on second, Mountain Home quarterback Zachary Hawthorne got back to the 2 on third down and the Bombers went for it on fourth. They again called Walker’s number, and he again went down in the backfield, this time for a 1-yard loss thanks to the efforts of junior Nick Nowden, who made the initial hit that stopped Walker’s momentum.

The Red Devils took over on their own 3 while holding a 14-10 lead with 5:04 left in the half. They covered 97 yards in nine plays, with 74 of those yards coming from Perry-Harris hookups. The first was a 24-yard strike on third and seven from the 6-yard line. After a 7-yard pass to Devon Featherston, Perry hit Harris again for 25 yards to the Mountain Home 38. Three more plays made it first down at the 25, where Perry found Harris along the right hashmark for their third touchdown hookup of the game. The extra point made it 21-10, and that’s the way the game went into halftime.

The second half was all Jacksonville. The starting Red Devil defense gave up 226 yards in the first half, but only 24 in the second half.

“The defense stepped up and did a tremendous job,” Whatley said. “You hold that bunch to 10 points you’ve done something. We were showing a lot of different looks in the first half, but coach (defensive coordinator Rick) Russell got them in one look and challenged them a little bit in that second half, and they responded. Even in the first half when they were on their heels, they stepped up and made a couple big stops.”

Meanwhile, the offense kept on ticking, although mostly on the ground in the final 24 minutes.

Jacksonville started the third quarter with the ball at their own 17 and needed nine plays to add another score. The drive saw Perry miss his only target, but he completed three other pass attempts to Keith Rodgers, Terrell Brown and Stanley Appleby.

The story of the drive was senior tailback Patrick Geans, who carried three times for 54 yards, including the final 29 on first down.

After the defense forced a three-and-out despite a first-down face mask that made it first and 2 for the Bombers, Jacksonville scored again on an eight-play, 78-yard drive capped by a 9-yard hookup between Perry and Harris.

Another three-and-out got the ball back to the Red Devils to start the fourth quarter. This time they only needed seven plays to 84 yards. Geans picked up the final 45 off left tackle on fourth and 2.

The Bombers added a score with 30 seconds left to set the final margin.

Jacksonville’s second score came after Corey Bester returned a Bomber kickoff 40 yards to the Mountain Home 44. On just the fourth play, Perry found Harris for a 28-yard scoring strike.

Geans, who had just 3 yards rushing in the first half on two carries, finished with 10 carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

The win lifts the Red Devils to 2-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play. Mountain Home dropped to 1-3 and 0-1.

The Red Devils will host Jonesboro next week at Jan Crow Stadium.