Saturday, November 16, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits pummel on Pocahontas

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke Jackrabbits earned their first playoff win since 2009 in dominant fashion Friday, as they manhandled Pocahontas 49-7 in the first round of the class 4A state playoffs at James B. Abraham Stadium.

“I was very pleased,” said Lonoke coach Doug Bost. “We told them, ‘hey, let’s come out, do our job and let’s survive, and move on to the second round.’ That’s what they did. They came out, and I thought we played great in all three phases of the game.”

Pocahontas (5-6) received the game’s opening kickoff, and picked up two first downs before quarterback Grant Pritchard’s pass was intercepted by Lonoke’s Blake Mack at the Redskins’ 46-yard line.

Mack returned the pick to the Pocahontas 34, and on the second play of the Jackrabbits’ first drive, sophomore tailback Josh Coleman took quarterback Kody Smith’s handoff 35 yards for the game’s first score. Jose Garcia’s extra point was good, giving Lonoke a 7-0 lead with 7:16 to play in the first quarter.

Lonoke (9-2) forced a three and out on the Redskins’ next possession, and it took the Jackrabbits just three plays to score on the ensuing drive. The score came on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Mack with 5:17 to go in the opening quarter. Garcia’s PAT made it 14-0 Lonoke.

The Redskins’ offense managed three first downs on their next drive, but three-straight incompletions by Pritchard forced another Pocahontas punt. Lonoke scored quickly yet again, this time on a 63-yard option keeper by Smith on the second play of the drive.

Garcia’s PAT gave the Jackrabbits a comfortable 21-0 cushion with just over a minute to play in the first quarter. Pocahontas, the No. 3 seed from the 4A-3 Conference, finally got something going offensively on the following drive.

Eric Wolf’s 53-yard burst down the Jackrabbits’ sideline on the Redskins’ first play of the drive helped set up an 11-yard score by Wolf two plays later, which came on the first play of the second quarter. The extra-point attempt was good, which cut Lonoke’s lead to 21-7.

The Jackrabbits’ next score came on their first semi-lengthy drive of the game. After two Pocahontas penalties resulted in Lonoke first downs, the host team picked up three more first downs in six plays, and ended the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run by Mack on a jet sweep with 3:58 to play in the half.

Garcia’s extra point made it 28-7 Lonoke, but the Jackrabbit offense wasn’t finished yet. After Lonoke’s defense forced another Pocahontas turnover on an interception by junior defensive back Caleb Bailey, the ’Rabbits took over at their own 38, and on the second play of the drive, Smith connected with Mack for a 35-yard gain.

Smith hit Mack again for a 14-yard gain after an incomplete pass, and three plays later, Smith found senior wideout Nick Watson in the middle of the field for a 19-yard touchdown pass with 32 seconds before the break. After the PAT, Lonoke went into halftime with a 35-7 lead.

“They gave us a different defense,” Bost said. “We practiced for a 3-4 all week, and they came out in a 4-4 and blitzed. We had some negative plays just because they were sending so many, but that also opened up the passing game.”

Lonoke’s defense kept Pocahontas in check throughout the second half, and the Jackrabbits’ offense invoked the sportsmanship rule with 5:20 to play in the third quarter on another touchdown toss from Smith to Mack – this one from 26-yards out. The successful PAT put the Redskins in a 42-7 hole.

Bost pulled his starters at the end of the third quarter, but the second unit set the final score in the fourth period. The Jackrabbits’ second team started at their own 30, and marched 10 plays down the field, capping the lengthy drive with a 10-yard touchdown run by junior running back Deven Mosley with 6:58 to play.

Lonoke’s offense totaled 485 yards, bettering Pocahontas’ total of 212. Smith completed 56 percent of his passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns. He also had seven carries for 73 yards and one rushing touchdown.

Coleman led the Jackrabbits’ ground game, as he finished with 13 carries for 128 yards and one touchdown. He also had a 58-yard reception. Mack contributed to the Lonoke rushing attack with three carries for 27 yards and one touchdown, but his biggest impact was in the passing game, as he finished with five catches for 124 yards and two scores.

“It’s been those three on offense all year,” Bost said. “I think they compliment each other well. One’s a quarterback, one’s a running back, and one’s a receiver. So we’ve got one at each spot out there. All three of them showed out tonight, and they’re a big part of our offense, that’s for sure.”

Friday’s win means Lonoke will host another playoff game next week, but the test will be a much tougher one, as Maumelle (9-2) will make the trip to James B. Abraham Stadium next Friday. The Hornets, the No. 2 seed from the 4A-4 Conference, beat Stuttgart 31-10 in their first-round game last night.