SPORTS >> Dogs run Rabbits
Leader sports writer
Bald Knob did not let being massively penalized stop it from raining on the Lonoke homecoming with a 33-13 victory on Friday at James B. Abraham Stadium.
Bald Knob was penalized 19 times for 160 yards but countered with 466 yards of total offense and a pair of goal line stands to down the hosts and improve to 5-0 on the season for the first time since 1968.
The win also improved Bald Knob’s record in the 2-4A Conference to 2-0.
The Jackrabbits (2-3, 0-2) suffered only half the penalties — 9 for 85 yards — but Bald Knob picked off senior quarterback Michael Nelson four times and recovered a pair of Lonoke fumbles.
Lonoke also turned the ball over four times on downs.
“I thought the defense played great,” Bald Knob coach Paul Johnston said. “They kept us in it. We got a little nervous in the first half with a lot of turnovers, but I thought our defense did a good job of getting us the ball back. Lonoke’s got a good football team, but I challenged my kids to play hard because I knew they were tough, and we were just the better football team tonight.
It was a big win for us.”
Lonoke coach Doug Bost and Johnston had an extended conversation immediately following the game after Bulldog senior quarterback Nick Glaze completed a 43-yard pass to Steven Merrell with 31 seconds left and Bald Knob ahead by 20 points.
The pass put the ball on the Lonoke 1-yard line.
“I do want to apologize for the long pass,” Johnston said. “I didn’t want to punch it in late. I apologize to the Lonoke community and to that team — I wasn’t trying to score. I don’t want that in their minds that I was trying to score just to rub it in.”
Defensively, Bald Knob keyed in on senior running back Brandon Smith. Smith has put up big numbers early this season, but was held to 49 yards on 16 carries on Friday.
Nelson, despite being intercepted four times, still found some success through the air, mostly to senior receiver Todd Hobson.
Nelson completed 17 of 31 pass attempts for 247 yards and a touchdown. Eleven of those receptions went to Hobson for 218 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown pass with 2:30 left to set the final margin.
Despite the numerous turnovers, the Jackrabbits threatened to make a game of it near the end of the third quarter when Nelson capped a seven-play, 69-yard drive with a 1-yard keeper up the middle with 1:52 to go. Sophomore kicker T.J. Scott added the extra-point to make it 20-7.
Nathan Leonard answered for the Bulldogs with 9:30 left with an 8-yard touchdown run. The two-point try was unsuccessful to leave the score 26-7.
Lonoke’s sixth turnover of the night led to the Bulldogs’ final touchdown with 5:46 left to go. The score came on a 3-yard touchdown run by Eli McGlothlin.
The Bulldogs went 73 yards in seven plays for their first score. McGlothlin capped off the drive with a 7-yard run with 3:16 left in the first quarter.
A fumble by Lonoke at the Bald Knob 47 gave the Bulldogs possession again before the end of the first quarter, and they took advantage with another scoring drive that went 53 yards in eight plays.
Glaze snuck in from 1 yard out on the first play of the second quarter to put Bald Knob up 14-0 after the successful extra-point attempt.
Glaze’s biggest run of the first half led to the Bulldogs’ third score when he broke left on a quarterback draw and dashed 47 yards for a touchdown with 1:57 left in the first half. The drive began at the Bald Knob 1 after a successful goal-line stand prevented Lonoke from getting on the scoreboard.
Things looked promising for the Jackrabbits when back-to-back offside penalties put the ball at the Bald Knob 3, but the Bulldog defense held Smith on fourth and goal.
It only took them four plays and 36 seconds to extend their advantage to three scores, but the extra-point attempt was blocked by Brandon O’Bannon to keep the score 20-0.
Lonoke had 328 yards of total offense. McGlothlin led the Bulldogs’ ground attack with 13 carries for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Glaze added 85 yards and two scores on the ground with 19 totes, and completed 17 of 25 pass attempts for 239 yards.
Johnston was elated with his team’s performance, but said he could have done without the penalty flags.
“We’re going to do some running on Monday,” Johnston said. “The 15-yard penalties are unacceptable and they know that.
We’re going to get that fixed.”
Lonoke will play at Batesville Southside next week, while Bald Knob hosts Stuttgart.