Saturday, September 13, 2008

SPORTS>>Run beats gun as Badgers hold off the Jackrabbits

Leader sportswriter

The Badgers caught a few breaks along the way, but made their own luck down the stretch when it counted most.

Beebe held on for a thrilling 28-19 win over Lonoke at A.S. “Bro” Irwin Stadium on Friday. The Badgers led the whole way, but held off the Jackrabbits on a big two-point conversion stand with 10:07 left to play. Lonoke pulled to within two points on a 14-yard toss from Rollins Elam to Morgan Linton, but the Badgers sealed off Clarence Harris on the two-point try to force an incompletion from Elam.

From there, the Badgers went on a perfectly-executed, 12-play, 65-yard drive that not only put Beebe up by two scores, but also ate 5:44 off the clock, leaving Lonoke with little time to get back in the game.

“That’s what we were wanting to do all night long,” Beebe coach John Shannon said. “But they did a good job on us. We kept making adjustments trying to figure out what to do, and they kept adjusting to us. It kind of went back and forth there until we finally figured it out there at the end and got us a good drive going that sealed the deal for us.”

The Jackrabbits looked to have made it a game again with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Harris with 2:11 left, but it was called back on a hold.

Both teams took turns turning the ball over, but it was penalties that made one of the biggest differences on the night. In all, Lonoke was penalized eight times for 80 yards, while the host Badgers collected two flags for a total of 15 yards.

Lonoke’s only successful offensive drive of the second half, a 10-play, 66-yard drive to start the fourth quarter to make it 21-19 was its last gasp, as Badger fullback Sammy Williams finished out the game strong on the ground, punching in Beebe’s insurance score from 12 yards out with 4:23 remaining.

“Our base is bend, but don’t break, make them snap it again,” Shannon said. “I felt like we were able to do that tonight. I thought the defense stepped up big. We have to get a better pass rush, though. We didn’t have a very good pass rush tonight.

I thought the secondary played really well considering we didn’t have much of a pass rush.”

The Badgers moved the ball consistently most of the night, but quarterback Roger Glaude had a pair of fumbles on the option in the third quarter.

“They did a different scheme than what we practiced on,” Shannon said. “That kind of diffused us on the option. Both of our turnovers were on option plays. We just have to do a better job of taking care of the football no matter what defense we see.”

Beebe’s two-score lead to start the second half was short lived. Brandon Purcell set Beebe up with excellent field position to start the second half when he returned Sam King’s kickoff all the way back to the Lonoke 34-yard line.

Glaude then connected with big tight end Ross Stroud for a 32-yard touchdown pass with 10:30 left in the third. Stroud strolled through the middle of the field uncovered, and relied on his 6-3, 222-pound frame to do the rest.

Glaude added the extra point, to put Beebe up 21-7, but Terrell Washington took the ensuing kickoff back to the Beebe 1-yard line.

The Jackrabbits punched it in two plays later on an end-around by Harris, but a low snap on the extra-point attempt led to a block by Adam Griffis to keep it at 21-13.

“Anytime you keep the lead, it gives you a mental edge,” Shannon said. “That was big for us. What started it out for us was when we blocked that extra point. That helped us and made them have to go for two. And to stop a two-point conversion is always big, especially when you’re protecting a lead.”

The Badger offense came out strong from the start, taking their opening drive 85 yards in just three plays. Purcell sandwiched a 59-yard run by Williams with runs of six yards and 19 yards. The latter at the 7:19 mark went for six to give the Badgers the early lead.

Lonoke made its way on the scoreboard for the first time in the final minute of the first quarter. Harris ran it in from a yard out to cap off a 10-play, 58-yard drive. King added the point-after to knot it up at 7-7.

The Badgers broke that tie on a 1-yard run by Purcell with 7:22 remaining in the first half that capped off a 52-yard drive to give them a 14-7 lead at halftime.

Williams led the Badgers with 27 rushes for 153 yards and a touchdown. Purcell added 72 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. Stroud had two receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown. Beebe had 359 yards of total offense. Glaude completed 4 of 11 pass attempts for 108 yards and a touchdown.

For Lonoke, Elam was 20 of 40 passing for 219 yards, a touchdown and one interception by Beebe’s Spencer Forte. Harris had eight receptions for 51 yards, and rushed for another 52 yards and two touchdowns. Joel Harris had four receptions for 89 yards, and Michael Howard had four catches for 44 yards.

Beebe stays perfect at 2-0, while Lonoke falls to 1-1 on the season. The Badgers will play at Vilonia, a 27-21 loser to Jacksonville on Friday, next week. Lonoke will host Central Arkansas Christian, who lost a 28-27 heartbreaker to Pulaski Academy.