Saturday, October 17, 2009

SPORTS >> Lions use short field to run by Red Devils

Leader sportswriter

The new era of Searcy Lions football hit its first peak on Friday.

Searcy celebrated homecoming and its first game of the year at Lion Stadium in style with a 40-14 clubbing of Jacksonville.

The Lions (3-4, 2-2 6A-East) gave themselves a short field numerous times, and took the momentum they built in the first half to put the game out of contention with 5:41 left in the third quarter.

The victory was the third for a Searcy team that had won three games the previous four years. It was also the Lions’ first real home game after they were forced to play the early part of their home schedule at Bald Knob because of faulty light standards at Lion Stadium.

“We went in at the half and had to do a little butt chewing because I saw a few too many smiles,” said first-year coach Tim Harper. “I knew Jacksonville came back against Mountain Home, and I didn’t want that happening to us. We came out and took care of business; I guess you could say that Lion had been caged up a little too long.”

The Lions quickly added to a 19-7 halftime lead when Jared Harriman scooped up a Jacksonville fumble and took it 41 yards for a touchdown with 8:35 left in the third quarter. Junior linebacker Mike Brown forced the fumble with a big hit to

Jacksonville running back John Johnson.

Steven Seitz added the extra point to give the Lions a 25-7 lead.

Searcy added two more scores before the end of the third quarter with a 1-yard run by sophomore quarterback Dezmund Stegall and a 13-yard touchdown run by Steven Seitz at the 4:02 mark.

Jacksonville (1-6, 1-3) had difficulty moving the ball all night, but closed the game with a scoring drive when junior quarterback Logan Perry hit Devin Featherston for a 12-yard touchdown pass just as time expired.

Jacksonville got all but 15 of its 191 total yards through the air.

“We didn’t let them establish a running game, and not really a passing game,” Harper said. “Our defense did a great job of containing them.”

Searcy drove inside the Jacksonville 15 on its first possession, but stalled on downs. Jared Harriman set the Lions up with good field position when he took a Jacksonville punt at his 34 and returned it to the Red Devil 14.

A personal foul penalty moved the Lions 7 yards closer, and it took only two plays for Searcy to punch it in from there. Big junior fullback Mike Brown, 6-10, 210 pounds, bulled in from 4 yards out for the first of his two touchdowns in the first half with 5:36 left to play.

Steven Seitz added the extra point to make it 7-0.

Jacksonville won the time of possession battle in the first half with a 16-play, 71-yard drive that ate 5:38 off the clock and ended with its first score. The Red Devils had a pair of fourth-down conversions along the way, including a fourth-and-6 attempt at the Searcy 20.

Perry hit D’vone McClure for a 14-yard completion to set Jacksonville up with first and goal at the 6.

The Devils lost 5 yards on first down, but Perry bounced back with an 11-yard touchdown pass to McClure with 11:50 left in the half. Price Eubanks added the extra point to tie it 7-7.

Searcy benefited from the short field again on its next scoring drive when sophomore defensive end Jonathan Powell picked off a Perry pass at the Jacksonville 26 and took it to the 11.

It was another two-play drive for six points, with another 4-yard run up the middle by Brown for the score. Jacarius Jordan blocked Seitz’s extra-point attempt to keep it 13-7.

The Lions closed the half with their most effective drive, taking the ball 40 yards in 12 plays. Brown had three straight carries to take it from the 7 to the 1-yard line, and Stegall snuck in on fourth down with 20 seconds left in the half.

Perry was 20 of 33 for 176 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. McClure had seven receptions for 88 yards and a score, while Featherston had six catches for 28 yards and a touchdown.

Searcy finished the game with 179 yards of total offense. Stegall led the way with 13 carries for 65 yards