Saturday, November 12, 2011

SPORTS>>Jackrabbits give away ball, game to Panthers

Leader sportswriter

Heartbreak is the only way to describe Lonoke’s 42-35 loss to Clarksville in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.

The Jackrabbits (3-8) trailed 42-35 and were facing fourth-and-goal with less than a foot to go and just more than two minutes remaining when a fumble gave possession to the Panthers. Clarksville punted, and Lonoke drove down to the Panther 23, but gave up the last of four interceptions for the game to help Clarksville put it away.

“Turnovers hurt us,” Lonoke coach Doug Bost said. “We’re down 28-14 at half and come back. The kids competed, never gave up. The defense came alive in the second half, and I’m just proud of the kids’ effort.”

Quarterback Grant Dewey found D.J. Burton for a 30-yard touchdown pass for Lonoke’s first score near the end of the first quarter. Burton scored again for the Jackrabbits before halftime on a running play that cut Clarksville’s lead to 28-14 at intermission.

The Panthers (5-6) went up by three scores again on their first possession of the second half, but Lonoke quickly answered with a 98-yard touchdown on a kickoff return by junior Eric Williams.

Burton put Lonoke back in the game to start the fourth quarter when he intercepted a Panther pass deep in his own territory. He converted into points on the next play for the Jackrabbits with a 60-yard touchdown run.

Williams scored on the ground again late, but the Jackrabbits could not find a way to get the tying score they needed in the closing minutes.

“I’m just proud of my seniors,” Bost said. “I appreciate all their hard work, and the leadership they’ve shown this year.”

Next week, Clarksville will travel to McGehee for the second round of the playoffs to face the Owls, who received a bye on Friday as the champions of the 8-4A Conference.