SPORTS >> Lonoke too much for Clarksville
By TODD TRAUB
Leader sports editor
Lonoke’s Todd Hobson made a bid to be the leading receiver against Clarksville on Friday night.
For both teams.
Hobson intercepted two passes, with each play leading to a score, and had a touchdown reception while Brandon Smith turned in a dominant rushing effort in Lonoke’s 48-21, victory in the first round of the 4A playoffs at James B. Abraham Field.
The Jackrabbits scored on six of their seven first-half possessions and built a 42-7 halftime lead, triggering the sportsmanship-timing rule known as the “mercy rule,” in which the clock runs almost continually in the second half.
“It’s a state playoff game. We had ninth, 10th-graders getting in there, that’s great,” Lonoke coach Doug Bost said. “We worked hard to get the home-field advantage. That was the main thing. We knew we’d have a good crowd here, the kids would be excited, so that was great to come out and execute like that, it sure was.”
Smith had touchdown runs of 5, 70 and 65 yards and caught a conversion pass in the first half. Hobson had a 16-yard scoring reception set up by his second interception and he also made a 7-yard touchdown catch in the closing seconds of the second quarter.
“We just read the quarterback’s eyes and he led us right to it,” Hobson said. “We had great corners and play from the other safety so it made my job a lot easier. Watching the film he had a really good arm, he didn’t throw any lobs. He threw the ball on a nice line. We knew it would be tough getting picks but we knew we could do it.”
Hobson finished with a team-best four receptions for 51 yards and his two scores.
“We’ve got a great running attack and a great line, it just opens up the passing game for us,” Hobson said.
Quarterback Michael Nelson added a 6-yard scoring run to go with his two first-half touchdown passes.
It all added up to a strong first-round showing for Bost, in his first year as head coach after coaching in the Lonoke junior high ranks.
“We got it, we got a big win, good crowd, good momentum heading into next week,” Bost said.
Lonoke advances to play at Warren, which it beat in one-side fashion in the second round of last year’s playoffs.
“Last year, that was pretty good,” said Smith, who rushed for 172 yards. “This year’ they’re pretty good, we’re pretty good. It’s just going to be a good game.”
Hobson ended Clarksville’s game-opening drive when he intercepted Trey Shucker’s pass over the middle at the 39 and returned it to the Clarksville 48, with the possession leading to Smith’s 5-yard scoring run.
Hobson grabbed his second interception at the 39 and returned that to the Clarksville 47, and the Jackrabbits later scored on Nelson’s 16-yard pass to Hobson that made it 20-0 with 11:54 left in the half.
“He’s a three-year starter, he really reads defenses good. From 7-on-7 and just playing so many games,” Bost said of Hobson.
“Yeah, he really sets the tone for us.”
Smith answered Clarksville’s first score, which came on a 16-yard completion from Shucker to Brody McKinney, with a 65-yard touchdown run off tackle on Lonoke’s ensuing first play to make it 35-7 with 4:17 to go.
Looking first for a receiver on third and 37 with under a minute to go, Shucker instead got off a line drive quick kick that went straight to Smith, who returned the ball from the Lonoke 46 to the Clarksville 23.
The play led to Hobson’s second touchdown reception with 6 seconds left and the 42-7 halftime lead.