Saturday, October 08, 2011

SPORTS>>Jacksonville comes on late, saves game

Leader sports editor

It’s a tradition at Jacksonville home games for various fireworks and cannons to go off after a Red Devil touchdown. The big cannons were on hand at Jan Crow Stadium for Jacksonville’s homecoming game against Little Rock Hall, but they were virtually silent for the first half. Things finally got louder in the second half, as the Red Devils were able to score three touchdowns and secure a 26-13 victory over the Warriors.

The game wasn’t decided until the very end. Hall led 13-12 late in the fourth quarter and Jacksonville faced fourth down and eight on the Hall 17-yard line.

After a timeout to talk about the play, Red Devil quarterback Tirrell Brown hit receiver Brandon Brockman at the 4-yard line. Brockman took a big hit after the catch, stayed on his feet and waltzed into the end zone to give the Red Devils an 18-13 lead with 4:13 left in the game.

“We had to have that,” Jacksonville coach Rick Russell said. “Brandon Brockman made a great play for us. Tirrell Brown got the ball to him. We had to have it and we found a way to make a play.”

Hall got a personal foul penalty on the ensuing kickoff and started from its own 29. After a false start penalty, two incomplete passes and a high snap, the Warriors faced fourth and 27 from their own 12. The fourth- down pass was also incomplete and Jacksonville took over from there with 2:42 left.

After a delay of game penalty, Brown hit Kevin Richardson at the 2-yard line, then handed off to D’vone McClure for the final touchdown of the game. McClure also converted the two points, setting the final margin with 1:56 on the clock.

The head Devil wasn’t very pleased with the offense in the first half, but got his team’s attention at halftime. Jacksonville took the ball to start the second half and marched 52 yards in four plays to take a 12-7 lead in the game.

“We just talked about execution, holding our blocks and just doing things the right way,” Russell said.

Neither team could get any offense going until Jacksonville finally scored with 1:24 left in the first quarter. In that drive, Jacksonville needed just four plays to go 68 yards, with Brown hitting Jacarius Jordan up the middle for a 44-yard scoring strike.

The bad news; after a great defensive effort, the Red Devils let Hall march down the field and score with 25 seconds to go, and went into intermission trailing 7-6.

Russell bragged on his defense and took the blame for the touchdown at the end of the half.

“I made some bad calls and gave them opportunities to get down the field on us,” Russell said. “Otherwise I thought our defense played really well. I was very proud of their effort tonight.”

Hall took the lead early in the fourth quarter. One play after McClure picked off a Hall pass, Hall’s own Geraud Peoples stepped in front of a Brown pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown.

The extra point was no good, giving Hall a 13-12 lead with 11:32 left in the game.

Turnovers played a big role in the game. Hall had four and Jacksonville three, but People’s touchdown was the only turnover that either team was able to turn into points.

Jacksonville junior Aaron Smith intercepted two Warrior passes.

“We saw their quarterback, saw how he played, how he throws the ball. We kind of knew Aaron was going to have a good game,” Russell said. “He’s a great athlete and he made plays defensively for us.”

Overall it was not an impressive offensive game for either team. Dropped passes were the story for Jacksonville, while bad shotgun snaps cost Hall dozens of yards.

“Concentration and execution, that’s what dropped passes are about,” Russell said. “We had some early where we score if we make the catch. Just do things in the proper order.”

The Red Devils compiled 272 total yards while Hall picked up only 139. The Warriors got 48 of their 60 total second-half yards on the final drive when Jacksonville began playing with a soft cushion.

Brown completed 14 of 28 pass attempts for 194 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Junior Kevin Richardson had 106 all purpose yards. He had four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown, and four carries for 41 yards. Jordan made three catches for 60 yards and a score.

The Red Devils, now 3-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play, go on the road next week to face the Searcy Lions. The Lions lost 34-24 on Friday to West Memphis.