Wednesday, September 01, 2010

SPORTS>>Turnovers lift Lonoke in upset over Star City

Leader sportswriter

PINE BLUFF —Lonoke used big plays to build a hefty lead over Star City then held off a furious comeback for a 38-29 victory in the Hooten’s Kickoff Classic at Golden Lions Stadium on Monday.

Star City cut a 32-13 lead to 32-29 with 4:03 left in the fourth quarter, then the Jackrabbits unleashed sophomore Eric Williams, who took Darius Scott’s handoff and cut up the middle 84 yards for the game-clinching touchdown on just his second carry of the game.

Williams saved the day, but it was Lonoke’s senior-led secondary that put theBulldogs in the hole. The unit intercepted Ty Towers four times, and junior linebacker T.J. Scott and freshman cornerback D.J. Burton returned one each for touchdowns.

“That was huge,” Lonoke coach Doug Bost said. “That’s our veteran secondary. They stepped up to make plays. D.J., No. 22, actually a ninth-grader for us, caught one and ran it back, so he filled in good for us. So, yes, the secondary did good.

“The D-line got pressure on them, so the defense really stepped up.”
Scott, the Jackrabbits junior linebacker, got the first interception after Lonoke scored its first touchdown. Scott snagged Tower’s pass to the middle and cut left 39 yards to score, then added the extra point to put Lonoke up 13-0.

Senior Wes Plummer got Lonoke’s second interception with 8:41 left in the second quarter, and the offense converted with a 39-yard pass play from Logan DeWhitt to Blake Dill for the first of his two touchdown receptions.

The Bulldogs were on the move late in the second quarter when Burton pulled down the third interception for Lonoke and returned it 61 yards to give the Jackrabbits a 26-6 lead with 3:57 left in the half.

Lonoke added to its lead early in the third quarter after another Plummer interception when DeWhitt found Dill again, this time for a 31-yard touchdown pass to make it 32-13. Dill took advantage of the Bulldogs’ extra attention paid to Scott and finished with five catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns.

Scott was used primarily on sweeps in the first half. But when DeWhitt was sidelined early in the fourth quarter after landing hard on his left shoulder, Scott became the quarterback.

“He said it popped out and popped back in, so thank God,” Bost said DeWhitt’s injury. “You see we struggled without him.”

Star City began its comeback at the start of the fourth quarter with a seven-play, 65-yard scoring drive that ate only 52 seconds off the clock. The Bulldog defense then came up big when David Scruggs fell on a Lonoke fumble after a botched exchange between center Dra Offord and Scott at the Star City 41.

The ensuing Bulldog drive ended when Towers fumbled at the Lonoke 2, which resulted in a safety for Star City on the next play. The Bulldogs then started at their 49 and turned in another one-minute drive that ended in four plays when Rashod Davis scored from the 2. Drue Harvey ran in the two-point conversion to make it 32-29.

“Second half, you could tell all the scoring drives, we got tired,” Bost said. “Slipping off tackles. We were in the right position, but we just got so doggone tired. Lack of depth — that hurt us in the second half.”

Lonoke’s running game was inconsistent all night and all but stalled late. The Jackrabbits faced third and long at the 16 when Williams, a 5-6, 140-pound receiver, took Scott’s handoff and went left before cutting up the middle on his touchdown run.

“That did it right there,” Bost said. “If we would have had to punt, I had my punter out; Logan’s my punter. I was just praying we would get a first down, and he broke that sucker all the way. For a tenth-grader, that’s big-time for us.”

Dills’ 218 receiving yards led Lonoke as Star City focused on Scott in the first half. Plummer, exploiting lighter coverage, scored on a 47-yard pass from DeWhitt as time expired in the first quarter.

“Dill and Wes Plummer ran a wheel route off of that,” Bost said. “You could tell that everybody was flying to Darius, and that opened it up.

“Darius did a good job of taking that coverage away and opening up other people, and Dill found the holes. Real pleased with that.”

DeWhitt was 11 of 20 for 238 yards and three touchdowns and one interception while Bryant carried 16 times for 59 yards. Williams’ two runs totaled 91 yards and a score.

Towers completed 9 of 16 passes for 131 yards with four interceptions and rushed 11 times for 102 yards and a touchdown.