Saturday, October 02, 2010

SPORTS>>Hurricane storms by Red Devils

By Jason king
Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville had no answer for Jonesboro running back Zac Brooks, who punished the Red Devil defense and led the Hurricane to a 34-20 victory Friday at Jan Crow Stadium.

Brooks finished with 179 yards and three touchdowns and raised the bar during Jonesboro’s first possession of the second half when he rushed for 74 yards on nine carries. Brad Shearin was the only other Jonesboro player to touch the ball on the drive with one carry for two yards.

Jacksonville (3-2, 1-1 7A/6A-East) gave up two early turnovers deep in its own territory that led to Jonesboro’s first two scores, forcing the Red Devils to try to play catch-up the rest of the night.

“We flexed our muscles a little bit there in the second half,” Hurricane coach Randy Coleman said. “I know how frustrating is when a team runs the same play or two over and over and over. I’ve seen it this year, and it kind of breaks the will of the opponent.”

The Hurricane (3-2, 2-0) smashed the left side of Jacksonville’s defense in the second half with repeated off-tackle runs by Brooks to the strong side.

The 6-2, 180-pound junior with 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash, has been offered a scholarship by Arkansas and proved worthy with 24 workhorse carries, with only one for negative yardage.

“Their running back is extremely fast and strong,” Jacksonville coach Rick Russell said. “They overpopulated the point of attack and did a good job pulling their guards out there. Whatever decision we made was the wrong one, because he’s such a good running back — follows his blockers really well.”
D’Vone McClure turned in Jacksonville’s best offensive performance with 12 receptions for 137 yards and two of the Red Devils’ scores. Senior quarterback Logan Perry, who had seven carries for 25 yards at one point, found the going tough in the second half as Jonesboro sacked him four times for a net loss of 24 yards.

Despite the difficulty, Perry finished 26 of 42 for 233 yards and a touchdown. The Red Devils needed every bit of that with a running game that gained 0 yards on 17 attempts.

McClure scored Jacksonville’s final touchdown with 46 seconds left in the game on a 12-yard catch from junior backup quarterback Tirrell Brown, who replaced Perry on the final drive and completed 6 of 10 passes for 84 yards.

“He’s a competitor,” Russell said of McClure. “He’s going to compete and try to win. So, he had an outstanding night, he sure did.”

The Hurricane finished with 355 yards, including 87 on a 9-of-16 night passing by junior quarterback Moe Malugen.

“Early, we just thought that the matchup was better between the left side of our line and the right side of their defense,” Coleman said. “We thought we had an advantage. They flipped, but it kept breaking.

“So, you know the old, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ we kind of needed to stick with that.”

Jonesboro took advantage of the Jacksonville turnovers in the first quarter.

Trip Crawford recovered a Perry fumble at the Jacksonville 31, and it took only one gadget play for the Hurricane to convert on a 31-yard pass from receiver Marshall McDaniel to P.J. Bookout that was set up with a handoff from Malugen to Brooks, who pitched to McDaniel.

Jacksonville’s defense bought the fake and left Bookout alone downfield as the Hurricane took a 7-0 lead with 6:49 left in the first quarter.

Perry fumbled on the first play of Jacksonville’s next drive at the Red Devil 24. Brooks carried four straight times and punched it in on a four-yard carry with 4:43 left in the first quarter.

Jonesboro went up by three scores with 4:47 left in the half when Malugen kept for a 17-yard touchdown run. The extra-point snap was botched, leaving it at 20-0.

Jacksonville scored just before the half on a 42-yard pass from Perry to McClure with 2:19 left. Perry put up a jump ball for McClure, who had a five-inch height advantage on defender Jacob Neil.

Xavier Brown’s extra-point attempt was just under the crossbar to leave it at 20-6.

Red Devil sophomore defensive back Kevin Richardson stopped another Jonesboro drive early in the second quarter when he intercepted a Malugen pass at the Red Devil 5-yard line and returned it to the 20.

The Red Devils picked up more yards when Jonesboro was flagged for a facemask on Richardson’s return.