Tuesday, August 21, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Defenses swarm in Red-White

Leader sports editor

Defense dominated most of the Jacksonville Red-White football game on Saturday at Jan Crow Stadium.

The Red team got a 12-6 win, but the Red Devils lost a key starter for the season on the third play of the game when Robert Harris went down with a severe ankle injury.

Harris caught a pass in the flat. After dodging one tackler and picking up eight yards, he was hit by two other defenders, resulting in a severely dislocated ankle and a broken fibula in his lower left leg.

“I just feel terrible for him,” Jacksonville coach Rick Russell said. “He worked so hard and was really becoming a great player for us. It’s a blow to our team but our main concern is for his well-being.”

The White team’s only touchdown in regular-drive situation came on defense. The Red team scored one offensive touchdown and one defensive. Overall, the Red offense fared better than the White team.

The Red defense did not allow a first down until the White team’s fourth offensive possession, and even then only by penalty. The White offense managed just three first downs, and two were the result of pass interference penalties by Red.

Red scored first when backup quarterback Reggie Barnes’ pass was tipped by his intended receiver Nykel Wortham and caught by defender Tyler Davis, who was on his way to the end zone when whistles were blown.

As is usually the case in intra-squad games, whistles were blown very early, and became even quicker after Harris’ injury.

On White’s first offensive possession, an illegal procedure penalty and a tackle-for-loss by Red team’s Jesse Walker left White’s offense with third down and 16 yards to go. White quarterback Kevin Richardson dropped back to pass and was hit from behind by left outside linebacker Carlin Heard as he released the ball. The pass traveled backward, making it a live ball.

Right outside linebacker Jacob Price scooped it up and scored the game’s first touchdown. Extra points were not attempted in the scrimmage.

The White team took four straight possessions, competing just one of 10 pass attempts for negative two yards.

The game’s only offensive touchdown came during goal line situations where the ball was placed on the 10-yard line.

Red team quarterback Aaron Smith scrambled for five yards on first down, but a 10-yard holding penalty on second down backed it up to the 15.

Two incomplete passes left it fourth and goal from the 15. Lined up in the shotgun, Smith handed off to Lamont Gause on a draw play. Guase ran up the middle, cut to his right, dodged one tackler, turned back left and run up the middle for the score.

“I was pleased with how the defense got in the right spots and ran to the ball,” said Russell, who accompanied Harris to the hospital and watched the game on film. “In open spaces I thought our pursuit of the football was really good. We still need to work on some things offensively and defensively. But like I’ve said all along, we have a great group of kids this year that we know are going to go to work on the things we need to do better.”