Tuesday, August 23, 2011

SPORTS >> Rabbits, Hornets cut short

Leader sportswriter

Mother Nature got her fill of high-school football scrimmages rather quickly on Monday.

And in the case of the benefit game between Lonoke and Maumelle at James B. Abraham Field, she didn’t even allow anyone to score before it was called just 15 minutes after the start due to dangerous lightning in the area. Stormy weather had already left its mark on the stadium after a lightning strike two weeks earlier knocked out the entire visitors’ side lighting.

That put a rush on getting through Monday’s scrimmage, but with dark clouds and lightning approaching fast out of the northeast, the Jackrabbits were left with the ball on the Hornets’ 1-yard-line.

It was only the team’s second possession after its first attempt on offense went three and out.

But in that short time, junior quarterback D.J. Burton was able to show off his scrambling ability.

Lonoke’s defense also looked good in its brief time on the field, ending Maumelle’s first drive with no yards allowed, and an interception by junior safety Kenny Johnson to end the Hornets’ second possession.

“I was pleased with the way the defense came out,” Lonoke head coach Doug Bost said. “They had energy – running around, talking – all the stuff we want to see on defense. They had a couple of big pops, so that looked good right there.

“Offense, we just couldn’t really get in a rhythm I guess you could say. We had the ball there on the 1. We really needed to punch that in, but that’s when they called the game. Ten plays is probably what we ran, so we’ll look at the film tomorrow. We’ll try to learn from it and get ready for next week.”

Burton and the Lonoke offense looked shaky on their first possession with a fumbled snap on first down and an incomplete pass that was close to being a fumbled lateral on second down, but faced with a third down and 15, Burton was able to break away on the left side for a nine-yard gain. They went for a pass on fourth down but fell short.

Burton went for another run during the second possession on third and 20, picking up 24 yards to set the ’Rabbits up with a first-and-goal at the Maumelle 10-yard line.

“That’s D.J.’s first time ever playing quarterback in a real game situation,” Bost said. “I think he had a little bit of nerves. He fumbled that first snap and then went the wrong way on another play. But he settled down and started making some good reads on the veer, and he had some big runs for us.”

Burton also caught a break when his intercepted pass was called back on a penalty for roughing the passer.

The teams were sent back to their locker rooms while fans set up to wait out the delay in front of the concession area, but the lightning strikes became closer and more frequent, leaving officials no choice but to call it a game a little after 7:30.

“It’s disappointing, because we needed to go up against a good team to see where we are and get us ready for next week,” Bost said. “But we don’t have any control over that.”

The Jackrabbits will open the 2011 high-school football season on Monday when they take on Star City in the first game of the Hootens’ Kickoff Classic at Golden Lion Stadium on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.