Saturday, November 03, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Bruins rout Red Devils, win Central

Leader sportswriter

Pulaski Academy’s prolific passing attack was too much for Jacksonville as the Bruins coasted to a 51-7 victory over the Red Devils at Jan Crow Stadium on Thursday to wrap up the 5A Central conference title with an unbeaten run.

Bruins senior quarterback Lawson Vassar completed 33 of 47 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns along with two interceptions by the Red Devils. Pulaski Academy (8-2, 7-0) had 543 total yards of offense.

Jacksonville (6-4, 5-2) could not get its running game going with just 27 yards on the ground. The Red Devils had 245 total yards, as senior quarterback Aaron Smith completed 14 of 15 passes for 161 yards before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter with a leg injury. Junior Reggie Barnes finished up the game behind center for Jacksonville.

Things started out on a positive note for Jacksonville as the Red Devil defense forced a turnover when junior linebacker Durrell White hit Vassar from behind just as he went to make a pass, jarring the ball free. Junior defensive end Titus O’Neal was there for the short interception and took the ball 79 yards for what ended up as Jacksonville’s only score.

“They’re a good football team,” Jacksonville coach Rick Russell said of Pulaski Academy. “They had a couple of extra possessions because of the onside kick. Second half, we started doing a little better job. They’re just a good football team.”

The Bruins quickly tied the game with a seven-play drive following Jacksonville’s score, and took the lead in the opening minute of the second quarter, 15-7.

Pulaski Academy took control from there as George Friedmann recovered an onside kick for the Bruins to set up their next scoring drive, and another successful onside kick late in the half denied Jacksonville of possession again.

Red Devils senior defensive back Kevin Richardson denied another Pulaski Academy score in the final minute of the half when he intercepted a Vassar pass in the end zone, but with 35 seconds left on the clock, Jacksonville did not have enough time to convert the opportunity into a score, leaving the margin at 29-7 at halftime.

The Bruins scored quickly on all of their first-half drives, but moved the ball more meticulously in the second half. They forced Jacksonville to go three and out to start the third quarter before going on an eight play, 88-yard drive that ended with a 60-yard touchdown run by Tyler Colquitt at the 6:39 mark to make it 36-7.

Pulaski Academy finally reached the sportsmanship/timing margin late in the third quarter with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Vassar to Daniel Vogel to give the Bruins a 44-7 lead, while backup quarterback Will Hefley set the final margin with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Will Hastings with 7:48 remaining.

O’Neal’s pick early in the game stood as one of the few highlights for Jacksonville, as the junior broke free on the right side and went untouched the entire 79-yard distance. O’Neal’s enthusiasm got the best of him at the end of the play as he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after a dive-and-roll into the end zone. Sophomore kicker John Hermann was still able to convert the point-after attempt to give the Red Devils an early 7-0 lead.

“We played hard. We played with emotion,” Russell said. “Titus has gotten better all year long. He plays with a lot of heart. He goes full speed, and he deserves that success. He was in the right spot and played good technique, and it worked out for him.”

Senior Brandon Brockman led the Red Devils in receiving with five catches for 94 yards. For Pulaski Academy, Hunter Henry had eight receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown while Vogel had 12 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. L.J. Wallace caught nine passes for 95 yards.

The Red Devils had to await the winner between Mills University Studies and Helena-West Helena Central on Thursday to determine their seeding for next week’s 5A state playoffs. The Comets took care of business as expected to capture the No. 2 seed, bumping Jacksonville back to the No. 3 seed.