Leader Blues

Saturday, October 24, 2009

SPORTS >> Jacksonville takes an official beating

Jacksonville junior running back John Johnson tries to escape a Little Rock Parkview defender during the Red Devils’ heartbreaking 26-21 loss to the Patriots on Friday night at Jan Crow Stadium.

By RAY BENTON
Special to The Leader

Jacksonville set the scene for an upset Friday night, but it wasn’t to be.

The Red Devils used two big fourth-down conversions to reach the Little Rock Parkview 5, but fell short as the Patriots won 26-21 in a 6A-East game at Jan Crow Stadium.

With 20 seconds to cover the 5 yards, the Red Devils instead allowed a 15-yard loss on a sack of quarterback Logan Perry.

Quick up the line and no timeouts left, Jacksonville snapped the ball with 6 seconds to go and Perry dropped back to throw, but the pass floated long and out of the back of the end zone as Little Rock Parkview prevailed.

The Red Devils’ final drive was one that Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley felt his team should not have needed after Parkview scored with 7:07 left in the game.

That drive was helped greatly when an incomplete pass seemed to set up fourth and 17 from the Patriot 9. The defender and receiver each fell down on the play.

Jacksonville sophomore D’Vone McClure had inside position on the deep pass near midfield. A good 5 seconds after the ball fell incomplete, Jacksonville was flagged for pass interference.

The penalty was a 15-yarder and an automatic first down. Three plays later, Parkview backup quarterback Chris Winston ran 37 yards to the 23.

Five plays after that, junior running back Christopher McClendon scored from 10 yards out to set the final margin.

The Red Devils were sensing victory before the controversial call.

“I thought it was going to happen when we had third and 18 down here inside the 10-yard line and we got a pass interference call,” Whatley said. “That was quite a big swing.”

Jacksonville started the game without a starting running back and a center. Senior Caleb Mitchell, who has started on the line all season and moved to center, also left the game in the fourth quarter with an injury.

Parkview tried to capitalize during Jacksonville’s final drive by blitzing up the middle, and it paid off on first and goal.

“We lost Mitchell and had to play a 10th grade center,” Whatley said. “First time he’s been in a war like that. It’s tough on him.

He went in there and did the best he could. They just started bringing heat up the pipe.”

Jacksonville (1-7, 1-4) had just taken its first lead of the game before pass interference call on a nine-play, 68-yard drive.

McClure had two big plays on the drive for 28 yards, and Perry kept for a 34-yard gain to help set up John Johnson’s 2-yard touchdown run.

The extra point made it 21-20 with 11:13 remaining in the game.

Parkview (5-2, 3-2) opened the game with a 72-yard scoring drive, with 70 of it coming in two plays. The first was a 21-yard pass and catch from quarterback Benjamin Anderson to McClendon.

The last was a 49-yard scoring pass to Christopher Giles that made it 6-0 with 10:44 left in the first quarter.

The teams then traded10 straight fruitless possessions before Jacksonville got on the scoreboard with 6:18 left in the half. The Red Devils marched 54 yards in eight plays, including a 7-yard pass from Perry to Tyler Crook on fourth and 7 to keep the drive alive.

Johnson capped the drive with a 21-yard run up the middle. He was sprung by solid downfield blocking by junior lineman Rhakeem James, who was still holding his block all the way to the goal line.

It took Parkview just 1:19 to answer.

Anderson hit McClendon for 48 yards, then Giles for 12 to get the Patriots to the 2, where the quarterback kept for the score with 4:59 left in the half. A fake extra point attempt resulted in a successful two-point conversion that made it 14-6.