SPORTS>> Blue Devils dominating again
Special to The Leader
West Memphis entered Jan Crow Stadium virtually unchallenged in conference play, and left that way. The Blue Devils dismantled their Red Devil hosts 47-0 on senior night at JHS. Jacksonville had some success early in the game.
The Red Devils got the ball to start the game, picking up two first downs before punting. They then did something most teams haven’t been able to do this year, they held the Blue Devils on their first drive.
When Jacksonville got the ball back on its own 19, the Red Devils moved it across midfield before the drive stalled.
The Red Devils went with five receivers and no running backs, and executed everything except securing the ball. Passes were finding their marks and receivers were running open in space, but too many passes were dropped.
The West Memphis pass rush was a big worry for Jacksonville, but it didn’t come into play until the end of the second drive.
The timing of West Memphis’ first sack was especially bad because it came one snap after a holding penalty and set up third and 30. Two plays later, Jacksonville’s punt was blocked and the Blue Devils took over on the Jacksonville 29-yard line. It was all West Memphis from there.
Three plays later with just 32 seconds left in the first quarter, West Memphis scored to go up 7-0. Just 42 seconds after that, they scored again. Jacksonville’s Cory Bester fumbled the kickoff following the first touchdown to set the Blue Devils up at the Jacksonville 26. They initially went backwards with a 7-yard loss and an illegal procedure penalty. On second and 22, Blue Devil running back Mario James went 38 yards for the score with 11:50 left in the half.
The third score came on West Memphis’ only pass play of the game. Quarterback Robert Sorrell hit Joe Dove for 40 yards with 8:12 left in the half.
Jacksonville began to move the ball again trailing 21-0. The Red Devils drove from their own 20 to the West Memphis 14. A 35-yard pass from Logan Perry to Patrick Geans was the big play of the drive. It ended with consecutive sacks on third and fourth down that gave the visitors the ball on the Blue Devils 27.
They gave it right back on a fumble, but Jacksonville returned the favor with an interception three plays later. West Memphis got back on track on the next drive, marching 74 yards in three plays, 64 of those coming on two 32-yard runs by Michael Hayes. Alvin Nelson finished it with a 10-yard run that put the Blue Devils up by four scores with 2:35 left in the half.
Jacksonville got one first down on a pass interference call, but was forced to punt with less than a minute left in the half.
The punt snap was dropped and the Blue Devils took over at the Jacksonville 17. After another illegal procedure penalty, Kendall Gray went 22 yards with 22 seconds left. The extra point snap was flubbed, and the halftime score remained 34-0.
West Memphis got the ball to start the second half, and Hayes went 55 yards on the first play to put the mercy rule into effect.
The Blue Devils tacked on one more score with no time remaining after another Jacksonville fumble set them up at the Red Devil 25.
“They’re just a good football team,” Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley said. “They’re starting 22 seniors and they play like it.
We’re on the other side, starting a ton a sophomores. I thought we had our chances early in the game, we just didn’t secure the football. I thought our kids competed and fought hard all night. We still hold our destiny in our hands, a win puts us at home for a playoff game, so that’s our focus from this point.”
Jacksonville finished with 102 total yards while West Memphis tallied 441. Hayes led all yardage gainers with 173 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries.
A total of 13 different Blue Devil running backs carried the ball in the game.
West Memphis improved to 8-0-1 and 6-0 in conference while Jacksonville dropped to 4-5 overall and 3-3 inside the 6A-East. Jacksonville will travel to Marion next week. The Patriots lost 35-34 to Jonesboro Friday.