Saturday, September 27, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils hammer Fair

Special to The Leader

When Jacksonville hosted the J.A. Fair War Eagles Friday night at Jan Crow Stadium, it started the conference season with a 42-0 victory. After going 0-3 in nonconference contests, the second season within a season win was a good start for the 5A-Central Red Devils.

Jacksonville had an impressive 303 yards of offense in the first half, while holding Fair to 54 yards. The Red Devils then added 117 yards in the second half, while yardage for the War Eagles was in the negative column. Lamont Gause had 208 yards from scrimmage for Jacksonville.

“The kids have been practicing hard,” said Jacksonville head coach Barry Hickingbotham. “We’ve had a tough nonconference, it’s great to see them come together and play good. J.A. Fair is in a kind of a rebuilding season, kind of like we are. We executed, still had a lot of mistakes. The kids played hard, and that’s what we’ve been telling them. If you play hard, then sometimes you can overcome those mistakes. We were fortunate tonight to overcome them, and we had a victory, which was great.”

Jacksonville’s Treasean Lambert returned the opening kickoff to the Red Devil 35-yard line. After an illegal motion penalty backed them up to the 30, Jacksonville moved the ball down the field with runs by Gause of 13, 28, 12 and 20 yards.

The drive was completed with a 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brandon Hickingbotham to Laderrious Perry. John Herrmann’s extra point try was good, and the Red Devils led 7-0 with 7:44 to go in the opening quarter.

On Jacksonville’s next possession, the Red Devils picked up two first downs, but then were forced to punt. The snap sailed over kicker Herrmann’s head.

When he retrieved it and attempted to punt, the ball was blocked and recovered by the War Eagles on the Jacksonville 13-yard line. The War Eagles could not take advantage and turned the ball over on downs.

On the first play from scrimmage, Gause took the pitch from Hickingbotham and went 82 yards for the touchdown scamper. Herrmann’s kick was good, and the advantage was 14-0 for the home team.

Fair’s Mikalen Hawkins took the ensuing kickoff and broke free to the Red Devil 28-yard line, where Keilen Richardson made a touchdown-saving tackle. Again the War Eagles could not move the ball and turned it back to Jacksonville on the 29-yard line.

Hickingbotham completed passes to Perry and Malcolm Crudup for 24 and 31 yards, but the drive fell short when Herrmann missed a 43-yard field goal attempt.

After holding the War Eagles to three and out again, Jacksonville moved the ball to the Fair 7-yard line. Gause had an apparent touchdown, but dropped the ball before crossing the goal line, and it went out of the end zone for a touchback.

Richardson intercepted a pass to give the Red Devils the ball, but then Hickingbotham was intercepted. Fair turned the ball right back over by way of a fumble, with Courtland McDonald recovering and then scoring from 5 yards out. Herrmann was good again on the PAT, and the score was 21-0 with 4:46 to go in the half.

Fair was to have the first possession of the second half, but the kickoff was fumbled and recovered by McDonald to give the Red Devils excellent field position on the Fair 16-yard line.

After a penalty moved the ball back, Hickingbotham hit Gause for 18 yards and a touchdown. After the Herrmann extra point, the score was 28-0.

The lead grew to 35-0 on the next possession as Hickingbotham found Lambert for a 31-yard touchdown pass completion.

The sportsmanship rule took effect then, and the clock ran for the rest of the game.

The Red Devils scored one more time on a 10-yard touchdown run by Lambert. Herrmann added his last PAT of the night for the final margin of 42-0.

Jacksonville will visit the Beebe Badgers next Friday night.