SPORTS>>Red Devils cash in turnovers for win
Special to The Leader
The Searcy defense played one of its best games of the season, and the offense moved the ball as well as it has all year. Jacksonville, however, came up with three defensive touchdowns and enough big pass plays to bury the Lions late, winning 40 16 on homecoming night.
The Red Devils had to overcome three turnovers of their own, as well as several costly penalties, but three touchdowns on defense helped to seal the deal.
“Our defense was outstanding tonight,” Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley said. “Not everything went real well for us, but this bunch gives this town everything they’ve got every Friday night. They play their guts out and that’s all you can ask.”
The highlight of the game came on Jacksonville’s last score. The win was already wrapped up, but Searcy was driving in the final minute behind reserve quarterback Josh Rowden. Rowden led the team on a 50-yard drive, but on second down and six from the Jacksonville 7-yard line, senior defensive back Terrell Brown stepped in front of a Rowden pass at the goal line and returned it 100 yards for his fourth touchdown of the game.
His third touchdown came on Searcy’s previous drive when he picked off a Matt Ingle pass and returned it 55 yards for the score.
Not all of his production was on defense though. He also had a 33-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter that tied the game at seven, and a 30-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter that gave the Red Devils a 26-10 lead.
The Lions got out of the gate quickly thanks to its defense. Searcy forced a Jacksonville fumble inside the Devil 5-yard line. On the very next play, sophomore running back Hayden Mercer scored to put the Lions up with five minutes left in the first quarter.
Jacksonville went down the field after the Searcy score, but illegal blocking penalties negated two big gains, and the Red Devils were forced to punt. The Jacksonville defense held Searcy to three and out, setting up Browns first touchdown catch from quarterback Logan Perry.
Again Jacksonville’s defense forced a short Lion drive, and took over possession from its own 8-yard line after a nice punt.
Senior running back Patrick Geans went 24 yards on first down with 15 tacked on for a face mask. Perry then hit wideout Demetris Harris for a 39-yard gain, but another fumble halted the drive and gave Searcy possession at the 25.
From there the Lions put together their best drive of the game, going 60 yards in 14 plays and settling for a 33-yard field goal by sophomore Steven Seltz. That put Searcy back up 10-7 with 3:05 left in the first half.
Jacksonville finished the half strong, driving 76 yards in 12 plays for the score. The drive was aided by a pass interference call in the end zone on third and goal from the 5. That made it first and goal at the 2, and two Geans carries later it was 14-10 going into intermission.
Jacksonville got the first of its three defensive touchdowns early in the third quarter when Harris scooped up a fumble and returned it 12 yards to make it 20-10. Searcy lost it again on its next drive when a low snap careened off Ingle’s knee and straight into defender Cory Bester’s hands. Perry and Brown hooked up on the very next play for 30 yards and the score to make it 26-10.
Jacksonville gained 473 total yards while Searcy racked up 395. Jacksonville though, was flagged nine times for 91 yards. The Lions were called for five penalties totaling 38 yards.
Ingle threw 36 times in the game, completing 21 for 202 yards and a touchdown. His top receiver was sophomore Preston Tarkington. Tarkington caught just one pass for four yards threw the first three quarters, but finished with seven catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Perry led the way for Jacksonville offensively. The sophomore quarterback completed 17 of 26 pass attempts for 346 yards. He found Harris six times for 154 yards, and Brown three times for 95 yards a two touchdowns. Senior Stanley Appleby also had a good game, catching four passes for 55 yards. Geans finished with 107 total yards, 73 coming on 13 carries and 34 on four receptions.
The win lifts Jacksonville to 4-3 overall and 3-1 inside the 6A-East. Searcy fell to 1-6 and 0-4. The Red Devils will hit the road to take on Little Rock Parkview next week while Searcy will host Jonesboro.