Saturday, October 06, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> ’Rabbits rumble, rout SSB in storm

Leader sportswriter

The conditions were miserable, but victory was sweet just the same for Lonoke as the Jackrabbits poured it on with a big ground attack to defeat Southside Batesville 51-21 at James B. Abraham Stadium on Friday for their first 4A-2 Conference win of the season.

The Southerners (3-2-1, 1-2) gave up 18 quick points to Lonoke, but cut the margin to 18-14 late in the first half before the Jackrabbits (3-3, 1-2) dominated the second half.

Starting quarterback Nick Watson went out with a shoulder injury at the end of the first half, and backup Grant Dewey suffered a bloody nose early in the third quarter. That left the Jackrabbits with all-purpose senior back D.J. Burton to run the offense out of the wildcat package, and he delivered with a 56-yard touchdown run to start the second half, and a 70-yard scoring rumble to set the final margin inside two minutes.

“We told them it was important for us to win tonight,” Lonoke coach Doug Bost said. “The kids had a good week of practice, and we put four quarters together tonight.”

The rainy conditions were bad enough, but the scoreboard at Abraham Field malfunctioned early in the third quarter. The LHS staff even tried unplugging the power to the unit, but the scoreboard remained frozen, displaying 12:82 on the clock. That meant time was to be kept on field by the officiating crew, which seemed to have troubles of its own during the course of the game.

“It got kind of sloppy at times,” Bost said. “Both teams had some turnovers because of the wet ball, but we were able to run the ball. We had to go to the wildcat a little bit more than what we planned for, but the kids blocked and D.J. ran the ball hard. That was good for us.”

Senior tailbacks Eric Williams and Brent Sims also had their moments on the ground for Lonoke. Williams upped the Jackrabbits’ lead to 37-14 late in the third quarter with a 33-yard touchdown run, and added another score from 9 yards with around 5:40 left to play in the fourth quarter to make it 44-21. Sims did most of his damage in the first half, carrying five times for 60 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown run on Lonoke’s third possession.

Southside senior running back Jordan Childress kept the Southerners in the game early with 21 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone, but Lonoke’s defense adjusted and held him to 20 yards in the second half.

The Southerners were stopped in their tracks on their opening possession, but the real trouble started for them on the punt attempt. The snap sailed high over punter Drew Moss’s head and rolled toward the goal line. In a panic, Moss tried to kick the ball away from the goal as Lonoke defenders converged on him. The play resulted in illegal procedure and illegal kick penalties against Southside Batesville, setting the Jackrabbits up with a first and goal at the 1-yard line.

It took one play for Burton to punch it in on a wildcat quarterback keep at the 10:18 mark of the first quarter. Burton also ran in the two-point conversion run to give Lonoke an early 8-0 lead.

The Jackrabbits got the ball back even quicker the second time around as Jordan Childress fumbled the snap out the Southerners’ version of the Wildcat formation, and this time, it did end up a safety for Lonoke to make it 10-0. Childress picked the ball up in the end zone, but Sims and Chandler Elmore were there on the play for the Jackrabbits.

The Jackrabbits turned it over on downs and Southside returned the favor to give the ball back to Lonoke at the 50-yard line.

Sims was stopped on first down for no gain, but he busted things wide open on the next play with a 50-yard touchdown run straight up the middle with 4:51 left to play in the first half. Burton again ran in the two-point try to give the Jackrabbits an 18-0 lead.

The Southerners began to get back in the game on the strength of Childress, who carried eight times on the next possession and picked up the majority of yards from the Southside 35 to the Lonoke goal line.

A pass-interference penalty made up the only non-Childress yards, as the Batesville High School transfer finished the drive with an 11-yard touchdown carry with 1:22 left to play in the first quarter. Colby Roulett connected with Jacob Rawlings for the two-point conversion pass play, cutting Lonoke’s lead to 18-8.

Southside cut the lead to one score when Roulett found Jake Hendricks wide open in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass with 10:08 left to go in the first half. The two-point try was unsuccessful, leaving the score 18-14 Lonoke.

The rest of the half was a series of stalled drives for both teams until the Jackrabbits ended up with the ball at midfield with 50 seconds remaining.

A pair of completions from Watson to junior receiver Blake Mack, along with a pass-interference call, helped Lonoke move the ball quickly.

The Jackrabbits had good field position at the 5-yard line, but less than a second remaining on the scoreboard. Junior kicker Jose Garcia came out to try a 22-yard field goal, and made it just as time expired to give Lonoke a 21-14 halftime lead.

Burton led the Jackrabbits with 15 carries for 151 yards and three touchdowns. Williams added 102 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Lonoke finished with 345 yards offense.

For Southside, Childress rushed 29 times for 108 yards and a touchdown while Roulett was 7 of 20 passing for 98 yards and a touchdown, along with an interception by Lonoke senior Dra Offord.

The victory puts both Lonoke and Southside Batesville at 1-2 in 4A 2 Conference play.

“We told them, and they knew it,” Bost said. “If (Southside) would have won, that would have put them two games up, and it’s tough in this conference to try and come back from that. We got a win, and we’ve got four games left, so we have to keep playing; get some more wins.”

Lonoke will host Dollarway next week for homecoming while Southside Batesville plays at home against Marianna.