SPORTS>>Devils miss chances, fall to Parkview
Leader sports editor
It was a night of futility for an otherwise game Jacksonville Red Devil football team at War Eagle Stadium on Friday night.
The Red Devils marched inside Parkview territory six times but cashed in only one of those opportunities and fell to the upstart Patriots 21-6.
“We did what we thought we had to do to win the ball game,” said Red Devil head coach Mark Whatley. “But if you don’t get it in the end zone, it’s all for nothing. We’ve got to learn to finish the fight. It’s a physical ball game and we’ve got to do a better job of finishing the fight.”
Parkview had plenty of fight and plenty of finish on Friday, getting 176 yards and two touchdowns from tailback Chris Giles, who accounted for more than half of the Patriots’ 353 total yards. Giles also had a reception for 13 yards.
The loss dropped the Red Devils to 3-2 in the 6A-East, a game behind 4-1 Parkview, which is enjoying its best season in years. The Pats’ lone loss this season came by a single point to Jonesboro.
Senior receiver Terrell Brown followed up his 4-touchdown performance last Friday night with another standout showing against Parkview, hauling in eight receptions for 119 yards.
“He’s had big games three weeks in a row,” Whatley said. “He’s really playing like you expect your seniors to play.”
But the Jacksonville running game mostly was non-existent. Patrick Geans was held in check with only 17 yards on eight carries. Keith Rodgers showed some flash with 43 yards on seven carries. But with quarterback Logan Perry getting sacked four times, the Red Devils could manage only 22 yards on 23 carries.
“We need to be a little more consistent (with pass protection),” Whatley said. “I don’t know if it was the offensive line or our backs weren’t picking up their blitz. We’ll have to look at the film to see.”
Jacksonville took the early lead. Demetris Harris picked off a fourth-down pass to thwart a promising opening drive by the Patriots and Perry marched the Devils down the field with three completions to Brown covering 56 yards. On the 11th play of the drive, Perry snuck across from a yard out.
A razzle-dazzle reverse on the extra-point try failed and Jacksonville lead 6-0 six seconds into the second quarter.
It took the Patriots only two minutes and five plays to claim the lead for good when they marched 57 yards. A 30-yard scamper to the 11 by Chris McClendon set up big Dominic “Choo-choo” Lucas for a 5-yard touchdown with 9:46 left in the half. The extra point gave Parkview a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, despite several deep threats by the Red Devils the rest of the way.
Nick Nowden’s interception of a Benjamin Anderson pass and 47-yard return to the Patriot 29 with 2 seconds left in the half gave the Red Devils a final shot before intermission. Interference in the end zone gave them yet another try from the 14. Perry hit Brown in the left flat, but Brown couldn’t shake free and was wrapped up at the 11 as time expired.
In the third period, the Devil defense stiffened and turned the Pats over on downs after they reached the Jacksonville 29. The Red Devils began another promising drive, with Rodgers finding a seam for 18 yards to the Pat 36. An intentional grounding put Jacksonville in a third-and-30 hole, from which it almost escaped when Brown took a tunnel screen 22 yards.
But a fourth down pass fell incomplete.
Parkview then needed two Giles’ runs to cover 65 yards. His 43-yard untouched touchdown run put Parkview up 14-6 with less than a minute remaining in the third period.
The Red Devils began a march which reached the Patriot 30. But Perry’s pass was picked off by Blake Vines, who returned it 47 yards to the Jacksonville 30. Four plays later and Parkview had surged to a 21-6 lead on Giles’ 6-yard run.
Jacksonville’s last gasp came on its next drive. Demetris Harris, who was held without a pass in the first half, grabbed a 22-yarder from Perry to set the Devils up on the 29. The Devils had a first down on the 16, but two sacks and an incompletion finished off the drive and Jacksonville.
“The defense played well enough for us to win tonight, no doubt about it,” Whatley said.
Harris finished with five catches for 48 yards. Perry went 19 of 34 for 203 yards with one interception. Jacksonville tallied 231 total yards.
The Red Devils, now 4-4 overall, host top-ranked West Memphis next Friday.