Leader Blues

Saturday, September 12, 2009

SPORTS >> Offenses dominate as Jackrabbits hold off Badgers

By RAY BENTON
Special to The Leader

Exciting match-ups that go down to the wire are the norm when the Lonoke Jackrabbits and Beebe Badgers hook up in Week 2 of each football season, and Friday night was no letdown.

Lonoke held a slim margin throughout the second half and held off Beebe 40-30 at James B. Abraham Field.

The first half saw four lead changes in a game that featured almost 900 yards of total offense. The Jackrabbits took advantage of four Badgers turnovers and racked up 531 yards of offense to edge out their Highway 31 rivals.

Beebe tried to key on Lonoke standout running back and college prospect Brandon Smith, forcing the Jackrabbits to be more versatile.

“They stacked it up pretty determined to stop Brandon so we had to find other ways to go with it,” Lonoke coach Doug Bost said. “That’s what we looked for and I thought we did a great job of it tonight.”

One of the ways that Lonoke went was to the air, and Beebe had no answer. Jackrabbits quarterback Michael Nelson completed 18 of 32 pass attempts for 297 yards and three touchdowns, all to receiver Todd Hobson, who had his own monster game.

“Hobson played great for us on both sides of the ball, and Michael, what can you say? He’s a leader and he’s just a winner,” Bost said.

Hobson finished with seven receptions for 131 yards and three scores and came up with two first-half interceptions. Smith also finished with 202 total yards, including 188 on the ground on just 18 carries.

While Beebe did a decent job of bottling up Lonoke’s super back Smith in the first half, it didn’t take Smith long to get going in the second half.

Smith took the handoff on the first play of the third quarter and went 65 yards on a sweep right for a touchdown that gave the Rabbits a 27-16 lead. It was the first two-score lead either team held in the game, but it didn’t last long.

The first five possessions of the second half resulted in touchdowns, but the scoring abruptly stopped with 11:00 left in the fourth quarter as both teams stalled. Beebe, which had turned it over on two of its first three possessions, turned it over twice more in the final period to halt any thought of a comeback

Beebe moved the ball well, but turnovers plagued the offense while missed tackles drew the ire of Badger head coach John Shannon.

“I’m just disappointed because I thought we would come in here and play better,” Shannon said. “We had a good week of practice and just didn’t bring it here. Actually I thought we got better offensively. We have to take better care of the ball, but we did execute our offense and showed a lot of improvement there.

“We are just going to have to start tackling better. That was the biggest disappointment in this game.”

Shannon remains optimistic, despite multiple mistakes in the first two games.

“The 1978 team started 0-3 and went on to the final four,” Shannon said. “We’re just going to go back, build on the positives and work on the things we didn’t do well before conference starts.”

Beebe finished with 330 yards of offense, including 177 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries by fullback Adam Griffis.

Lonoke improved to 2-0 and will battle Central Arkansas Christian next Friday. The Badgers return home to face the Vilonia Eagles.