By JASON KINg
Jacksonville’s homecoming was a game of last chances, and the Red Devils made good use of the final one.
Senior running back Antwone Mosby pulled down a seven-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Logan Perry in the back of the end zone with three seconds left for a 12-7 victory over Searcy on Friday at Jan Crow Stadium.
The score came on the heels of Searcy’s only big offensive play of the night, a 23-yard touchdown pass from Dezmond Stegall to B.J. Slaughter on fourth-and-goal with 5:25 left. Steven Seitz gave the Lions the lead, 7-6, with the extra-point kick, but the Red Devils marched 69 yards in 12 plays and ate up the remainder of the clock.
“I hope it was exciting for them, because it was pretty stressful for us,” Jacksonville coach Rick Russell said of the capacity homecoming crowd. “The kids played for 48 minutes. We moved the ball on offense. The defense — I don’t think they got across the 50 until the blocked punt.”
Seitz gave Searcy new life when he blocked Mosby’s punt at the Jacksonville 32 with 9:40 left in the fourth quarter. The Lions, who struggled offensively most of the night, got the ball to the Red Devils’ 6 for a first-and-goal, but backed up on a procedure penalty followed by a holding call.
Stegall, who finished 5 of 9 passing for 51 yards and had 62 yards rushing on 13 carries, threw two incompletions to give the Lions fourth down, but found Slaughter over the middle to tie it at 6-6 before Seitz’s conversion.
“They played a great game. They won, they deserved to win, that’s all I can say,” Searcy coach Tim Harper said. “They did a great job, had a great effort. We didn’t come to play first half.
“Second half, it’s hard to overcome a lot of the things we had to try and overcome. Our kids made some plays there at the end, but unfortunately, they made one more than we did.”
The Red Devils (5-2, 3-1 6A-East Conference) held the ball most of the third quarter with a 17-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a wide-right kick from Xavier Brown from 30yards out with 35 seconds left in the period. The drive ate up 8:41 with the Red Devils running primarily out of the Dead T offense popularized by local rival Cabot.
“We’ve been working on that hard,” Red Devils junior D’Vone McClure said. “We just put it in, and we’ve been working on it hard all week. Up front, our linemen, we give it all to them, they kept blocking.”
McClure had 10 carries for 41 yards, most of which came during the long third-quarter drive, while senior receiver Jamison Williams carried the air attack with eight receptions for 75 yards.
Perry was 11 of 16 passing for 116 yards of Jacksonville’s total 274 yards of offense. Mosby led all rushers with 11 carries for 68 yards, but it was his only reception of the night that clinched the game for the Red Devils.
“Oh my gosh, was that not a big-time catch?” Russell said. “Logan stayed in the pocket. We only had nine seconds, we wanted to get rid of it a little quicker than that so we could have a field-goal try if it was incomplete. Beautiful — great executed play.”
Senior Kenny Cummings set up Jacksonville’s first score with 7:51 left in the first half when he recovered a Stegall fumble at the Searcy 31.
The Red Devils kept it on the ground for the most part with the exception of an 18-yard pass from Perry to Williams to set Jacksonville up with first-and-goal at the Searcy 1.
Perry called his own number on first down and was stuffed by the Lion defense, but was able to punch it across the goal line on the next play for the touchdown. The Red Devils failed to convert their extra-point attempt when Brown took a direct snap on the fake kick and was dragged down at the 5-yard line.