SPORTS >> Turnovers, penalties sink Red Devils
Leader sports editor
Jacksonville veered into trouble against Mills on Friday.
The Red Devils committed six turnovers, plus penalties, and couldn’t contain the Comets’ veer offense at critical times as Mills won 24-14 at Jan Crow Stadium.
“We played ugly football tonight no question about it,” Jacksonville Coach Mark Whatley said of the four lost fumbles and two interceptions.
The Red Devils also committed five penalties for 50 yards.
“We’re a better football team than that and for us to play better we’re going to have to play from our heart and our head a little better,” Whatley said.
Just as costly to Jacksonville, in its final non-conference tune-up before opening 6A-East play next week, was the running of Mills junior halfback Stephen Clark, who had 159 yards on five carries, scoring on two long runs and setting up a touchdown with another.
“He’s been kind of a rookie and hopefully tonight was kind of a coming out party for him,” Mills coach Patrick Russell said. “He certainly figured it out a little bit. Three plays there he probably had 150 yards of offense or more and it makes me look a lot smarter.”
Mills led 18-7 at halftime and made it 24-7 when Clark went right and scored on a 59-yard run with 4:48 left in the third quarter.
During a fourth-quarter sequence, Mills fumbled, Jacksonville fumbled it back, then the ball popped out again on a Mills rushing attempt and Jacksonville’s Reggie Crudup grabbed the ball out of the air and the Red Devils started on their 26 with 9:35 left in the game.
Jacksonville drove for Keith Mosby’s 1-yard touchdown run that cut it to 24-14 with 5:58 left. John Johnson had a 12-yard carry on the possession, Logan Perry had a 15-yard completion to Tyler Crook, Mosby had a 12-yard carry and Perry hit D’Vone McClure on a 21-yard gain to the 3.
The Red Devils got a defensive stop, but their final possession ended with another lost fumble and the Comets were able to bleed the final minute off the clock.
“You don’t block, you don’t tackle and don’t take care of the football you don’t win a lot of games,” Whatley said.
Jacksonville plays at Mountain Home in its first conference game next week. Mills, of the 5A-Southeast, plays host to Monticello.
Mills took an 18-7 halftime lead with help from two long runs by Clark.
The halfback broke through the right side to cap the opening possession with a 54-yard run with 9:20 left in the first quarter of what turned out to be a penalty- and mistake-marred half.Mills defensive lineman Rico Perkins recovered a fumbled snap by Jacksonville’s Logan Perry at the Red Devils 44 with 4:06 to go in the quarter, and after one play Clark turned in a 29-yard run for first and goal at the 5.
Quarterback Chris Hampton took it in from there for the 12-0 lead with 3:12 to go and the Comets’ second attempt at a conversion failed.
Jacksonville drove from its 29 on the next possession, with Perry completing four passes, including a 28-yard connection to Keith Mosby, and scored on a 38-yard run by Doug Sprouse to pull within 12-7 with 11:07 left in the half.
Mills specialist Scott Jones mishandled the ensuing kickoff but got loose for a 42-yard return, and the Comets drove to Red Devils 14 before being thrown back, with Crudup dropping Hampton for a 5-yard loss to set up fourth and 13.
But Hampton intercepted Perry to end Jacksonville’s next possession, and Mills drove from the Red Devils 49 and score when Patrick Johnny made a falling down catch of Hampton’s 15-yard pass to the left corner with 16 seconds left. The conversion run failed and Damon Sewell intercepted Perry in the closing seconds to leave it 18-7 at halftime.
Sewell was injured on the play and treated by paramedics throughout the halftime break. He was immobilized and taken away, and appeared to be moving his hands and feet.
“He was tackled with his head down and felt some tingling and things and got a little groggy so for a precaution they took him,” Russell said.
Jacksonville committed four penalties for 30 yards in the first half and Mills committed four for 35.