SPORTS>>Junior Devils storm back from 18 down
Leader sports editor
It’s hard to imagine a worse start or a better finish for the Jacksonville ninth-grade Red Devils on Thursday night at Sylvan Hills.
While the Devils were committing penalties, fumbling and generally sputtering, the Bears needed just 10 plays to cover a total of 138 yards and go up 12-0. After a Jacksonville fumble, Sylvan Hills needed just six more plays to make it 18-0.
But somehow, the Red Devils found a way to shut down the Bears’ ground game at the same time they got their own passing game going and Jacksonville stormed back for a dramatic 27-26 win to improve to 3-1.
“I’m proud of the kids for coming back,” said Jacksonville head coach Max Hatfield. “They could have quit when it was 18-0.
That’s a lot of points to overcome in a ninth-grade game.”
Kyle Perry’s 38-yard scamper with 1:53 left in the game knotted the score at 26. Kicker Demetre Jones got a second chance after missing the go-ahead extra point when Sylvan Hills was whistled for a personal foul. Jones made good on his second attempt to put the Red Devils up.
But Trey Bone, who scored three touchdowns and rushed for 147 yards for the Bears, nearly did it to the Devils again when he returned the kickoff all the way down to the Jacksonville 38. An interception by Cedric Young with less than 10 seconds remaining appeared to have ended it, but a roughing-the-passer penalty kept the Bears’ hopes alive at the Jacksonville 21.
David Johnson preserved the victory by making a tackle at the 15 yard line as time expired.
Jacksonville quarterback Jesse Harbin completed 6 of 9 passes for 114 yards, with four of those completions going to Devon McClure for 92 yards, including three for touchdowns.
After trailing 18-6 at the half, Jacksonville, which ran only 11 first-half plays, narrowed the margin to five on McClure’s 36-yard touchdown reception from Harbin. McClure caught the pass in the left flat, shook three defenders and raced down the left sideline. Jones’ extra point made it 18-13.
But Bone scored from 26 yards to extend the lead to 26-13 with 2:05 left in the third. The Red Devils failed to move on their next possession, but a bad snap on a punt by Sylvan Hills gave Jacksonville the opening it needed. Taking over at the Bear 25, Harbin scrambled 21 yards to the 4, then hit McClure for a five-yard touchdown pass four plays later to make it 26-20, but with only 3:22 left in the game.
The Red Devils opted for an onside kick, which Johnson recovered at midfield. Perry got the call three straight times. The third handoff he took up the middle, then cut outside to the left on his way to a game-tying 38-yard touchdown run.
After allowing the Bears to rush for 179 yards at halftime, the Red Devil defense buckled down to limit Bone and company to just 63 after intermission. Trey Smith added 81 yards on 12 carries as Sylvan Hills totaled 279 yards.
Terry led Jacksonville with 80 yards on seven carries. McClure rushed seven times for 23 yards. The Red Devils had 229 total yards.