SPORTS > > Red Devils fend off Warriors
The two Red Devil scores in the second half ultimately proved unnecessary thanks to a Jacksonville defensive effort that allowed only 42 yards of offense from Little Rock Hall in the final two quarters on Friday night at Scott Field.
The result was a 27-8 victory for Jacksonville that relied heavily on clock management in the last 24 minutes to grab its second 6A-East Conference win of the season.
The Warriors (1-5, 0-3 conf.) hung tough with Jacksonville (3-3, 2-1 conf.) through most of the first half, but a late first-half injury to starting quarterback Myron Jackson seemed to zap their momentum on offense.
Ricky Thomas did a respectable job of filling in for Jackson, but couldn’t shake a relentless second-half blitz attack led by senior defensive back Corey Bester.
Jacksonville’s only turnover of the night came on the second-half kickoff, which gave the Warriors excellent field position at the Devil 39-yard line. They got down to the Jacksonville 28 before Bester busted through for a pair of huge sacks.
The first one sent Hall back eight yards, and his second one was even more damaging. Bester caught Thomas 13 yards behind the line of scrimmage to set up a fourth-and-32 situation.
“Hats off to them – they kept plugging,” Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley said of the Warriors after the game. “Fortunately, we found a way to win it. I don’t know, we seemed flat – we’re not playing with a lot of excitement or passion. We’ve got to get that back and we’ve got find it quick.”
Despite the disappointment on the overall effort, Whatley was pleased to see the defensive effort in the second half.
“They really came up big,” Whatley said. “We had a couple of stuffs there off the corner that really backed them up and turned the game around a little bit. I was glad to see that happen.”
Bester also put the final stake through the heart with 1:20 left to play with a 10-yard touchdown run that set the final margin, but his sacks proved to be the game changer.
“Coached called them,” Bester said. “Whatever he tells me to do, I’m going to do it. We practice on this every single day since August, and we just pushed it to the next level. And I had to do it for my team, so, there you go.”
Bester also relished his late TD run.
“It felt good,” Bester said. “My team supports me. I couldn’t do any of this without my team behind me.”
Jacksonville took its first possession after a stalled Hall drive to start the game and went 85 yards in 11 plays for the first score. Running back Patrick Geans did most of the damage on the ground, taking six carries for 47 yards, but it was Keith Rodgers that capped off the drive on a seven-yard run with 4:16 left in the first quarter. The point-after attempt was unsuccessful to leave the score 6-0.
The Warriors answered on their ensuing drive. A good kick return netted them great field position at their own 45-yard line, and Sherodrick Smith busted through the Red Devil defensive line from a yard out to start the second quarter, which tied things up at 6-6.
Smith also bulled his way in for the two-point conversion to give Hall its first and only lead of the contest.
The Red Devils kept it on the ground during their next scoring drive. This time, Bester took the first three carries before Geans took over once again. Rodgers gave Jacksonville first and goal at the 2 on a 9-yard carry, and Geans busted through for the score with 2:31 left in the half. The Warriors blocked Price Eubanks’ point-after attempt to leave the score at 12-8 heading into intermission.
The third quarter went scoreless, but the Red Devils finally scored through the air with 9:43 left in the game. QB Logan Perry found Terrell Brown in the corner of the end zone on the left side for an 18-yard touchdown pass. Rodgers ran in the two-point conversion to put Hall down by two scores at 20-8 with little time left to make up the deficit.
Geans led the Red Devils in rushing with 20 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown. Rodgers had six rushes for 69 yards and a touchdown, and got the only turnover for Jacksonville on the final play of the game with an interception, while Bester finished with seven carries for 48 yards and a score.
Perry went 13 of 23 through the air for 145 yards and a touchdown. Demitris Harris had three catches for 33 yards, and Brown had three catches for 39 yards and a touchdown. Jacksonville converted 16 first downs, and was penalized seven times for 40 yards. The Red Devils had 351 yards of total offense, with 143 yards of total offense for Little Rock Hall. The Warriors had nine first downs and five penalties for 45 yards.
The Red Devils host Searcy for Homecoming next Friday.