Leader Blues

Saturday, November 22, 2008

SPORTS>> Jackrabbits move on to quarterfinals

Leader sportswriter

Any doubts that Lonoke might be rusty after having a bye week were quickly put to rest on Friday night at James B. Abraham Stadium. The Jackrabbits scored on their first four possessions in the first half, and held off a third-quarter run by Warren for a 45-24 win in the second round of the 4A state playoffs.

The win puts the Jackrabbits (10-1) in the quarterfinals next week, when they will travel to Springdale to face Shiloh Christian Academy. The Saints (10-1) easily advanced to the quarters with a blistering 84-14 win over Clarksville on Friday.

A 52-yard touchdown run by Lumberjack senior running back Dedrick Hampton with 7:45 left in the third quarter pulled Warren (9-3) to within two scores at 31-18, and the ’Rabbits struggled to get their offensive rhythm back until the middle of the fourth quarter.

They finally put together their second scoring drive of the half on an eight-play, 37-yard drive that was capped off with a 6-yard sneak by senior quarterback Rollins Elam with 8:11 left to play to extend the lead to 38-18, then put up one ball,” Lonoke coach Jeff Jones said. “Their defense settled in and gave us fits there in the second quarter. They’re a fine ball club. We’re just fortunate to come out with a win.”

The Lonoke secondary came up big on the first two Lumberjack drives, intercepting quarterback Hayden Smith both times. Todd Hobson pulled down the first pick to set up a 36-yard scoring drive that put the Jackrabbits up 12-0 on a 12-yard touchdown run by Clarence Harris.

Darius Scott got the next interception on a rocket up the middle intended for Raheim Alford that gave Lonoke great field position at the Lumberjack 32-yard line.

It took the ’Rabbits only three plays to get the job done from there, with a 25-yard bomb from Elam to Michael Howard that put Lonoke up 18-0 with 4:36 still left in the opening quarter.

Elam needed every bit of his 13-of-16 performance in the first half. The senior had different fortunes altogether in the second half, going 1 of 12 for 24 yards and an interception. His made his only completion of the second half count, however, with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Howard at the 8:05 mark of the third quarter to lift the Jackrabbits to a 31-12 lead.

“I don’t know if it was sitting around getting cold or whatever,” Jones said. “Or trying to be too cautious with the ball. Maybe that was it, but we need to figure it out and get it corrected.”

Warren’s third-quarter rally began with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Quinn Franklin on the first play of the ’Jacks second possession of the half. Smith went for the two-point conversion but was shut down by the Lonoke defensive line.

They also failed to convert the two-point try following Hampton’s 52-yard scamper, as the Lonoke defense held them in check until Warren drove to the Jackrabbit 1-yard line as time expired.

“Our defense played outstanding,” Jones said. “We knew that they were a big-play team, and we were able to avoid that in the first half. But they came out in that second half. We knew we were going to get tested, and we did. It’s hard to stop that speed.”

Scoring came much easier for Lonoke in the first half. The first ’Rabbit drive went 70 yards, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Brandon Smith, the first of three TD runs for the junior tailback. Harris and Howard turned the Jackrabbit picks into points after that, and Smith scored on the first play of the second quarter on a 1-yard run to set the 25-6 halftime margin.

Elam was 14 of 28 passing for 177 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. Smith had 17 carries for 106 yards and three touchdowns. Howard caught five passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Clarence Harris rushed 24 times for 175 yards and one touchdown.

The Jackrabbits had 461 yards of total offense with 20 first downs.

Hampton led the Lumberjacks offensively with 207 all-purpose yards. He rushed 18 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns, and had seven receptions for 84 yards and one touchdown. Warren had 422 yards of offense with 13 first downs.