Saturday, October 27, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils get victory in annual Chili Bowl

Leader sportswriter

The pleasant weather at the start of the annual Chili Bowl Classic on Thursday was a mere subterfuge as strong winds and heavy rain moved into Jan Crow Stadium just before halftime with the Jacksonville freshmen Red Devils leading North Pulaski 20-0. The downpour persisted through each schools’ cheer performances at the half, swaying both sides to agree on cancelling the balance of the contest.

The victory for the ninth-grade Devils completed a triple-crown victory for Jacksonville as the seventh-grade Red Devils shut out Northwood 34-0 in the opener, while fleet tailback Roman Little led the eighth-grade junior Red Devils to a mercy-ruled 38-6 victory over the Knights leading up to the anti-climatic finale.

Freshmen Red Devils receiver/kick returner Kajahn Daniels scored all three Jacksonville touchdowns with receptions from quarterback Brandon Hickingbotham, but did most of his damage on special teams with runbacks deep into Falcon territory. Daniels took the opening kickoff from the Jacksonville 30-yard line all the way to the NP 5 before being dragged down.

The Falcons pushed back on the first play from scrimmage, tackling tailback Mal-com Crudup for a four-yard loss, but Hickingbotham connected with Daniels up the middle on second down to put the Red Devils up 6-0 at the 6:37 mark of the first quarter.

Turnovers were a constant for both teams during the brief game, as Jacksonville fumbled on the Falcon 1-yard line on its next possession, but lineman Darian Phillips got the ball back for the Red Devils when he intercepted NP quarterback Ean Collie.

That set Jacksonville up with a first-down at the Falcons’ 28-yard line, and this time, the Devils capitalized with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Hickingbotham to Daniels with 42 seconds remaining in the opening period to give the hosts a 12-0 lead.

Daniels’ only slip up came at the end of another stalled North Pulaski drive when he fumbled the ensuing punt at midfield to give the ball back to the Falcons. That resulted in another three and out by North Pulaski, and the Red Devils took over at their own 28-yard line.

That gave Daniels and Hickingbotham the opportunity to strike again. Daniels took a screen pass from the right side on second down and cut across the middle of the field, breaking four tackles along the way to find an open lane on the left, coasting 67-yards for the final touchdown with 4:58 left to play in the half. Crudup set what was to become the final margin with a successful two-point conversion run to give the Red Devils a 20-0 lead.

The Red Devils lined up for the swinging gate to start their next possession at the Jacksonville 39-yard line. With Avery Wells wide open in the flat, Hickingbotham launched deep to Crudup, who was covered by five North Pulaski defenders. Cedric Handley intercepted the pass for the Falcons to give them the ball at the 46-yard line.

Jacksonville defensive back Robert Knowlin returned the favor one play later as he intercepted Falcon quarterback Doug Gates and returned the ball to the NP 40.

The game ended with the Red Devils still on the attack as Crudup caught a Hickingbotham pass and plowed his way to the 9-yard line before being brought down just as the half expired.