Saturday, September 12, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits outrun Badgers

Leader sportswriter

For the second week in a row, the Lonoke Jackrabbits beat a No. 3 ranked team. After beating Class 4A Star City by double digits in week one, the Jackrabbits beat rival Beebe 39-22 in the Battle of Hwy. 31 on Friday at James B. Abraham Stadium.

“Like I just told them there, the No. 3 team last week and the No. 3 team in 5A (Beebe),” said Lonoke coach Doug Bost of the two wins, “I’m so proud of my boys. We’ve got to keep it going just one game at a time. I’m very proud of the effort, the energy.

“That’s a team right there that rushed for about 400 yards last week. They scored 41 last week and we held them to 22, so I’m proud of the defense, because it’s definitely a hard offense to stop.”

Lonoke (2-0) received the opening kickoff, and found the end zone in five plays. Runs of 11 and 18 yards by quarterback Savonte Rountree and running back/receiver Justin Meadows helped set up a 19-yard touchdown run by Rountree on an option keeper with 9:55 left in the opening quarter.

Ethan Holland kicked the extra point to give the hosts an early 7-0 lead. Beebe started its first possession at its own 35, and after four-straight runs of 3 yards by Trip Smith and Tyler Woodall, Jo’Vaughn Wyrick took the fifth handoff from quarterback Justin Burlison and ran 2 yards before fumbling it over to the Rabbits.

Starting near midfield, Lonoke’s Rountree ran for negative yards on the first play of the possession, and Meadows took a pitch on the second play 56 yards for another Lonoke touchdown. The PAT was blocked, leaving the score 13-0 Jackrabbits.

Beebe (1-1) responded on the ensuing drive. Starting from their own 34, the Badgers went on a six-play drive that ended with a 16-yard TD run by Wyrick with 4:16 left in the first quarter. Connor Patrom kicked the extra point to make it a 13-7 game.

Lonoke answered with a six-play drive of its own that resulted in a score. That score came on a shifty 38-yard TD run by Meadows with 2:04 left in the first. The 2-point try was unsuccessful, leaving it 19-7 Jackrabbits.

The Badgers then maintained possession for the rest of the first quarter and kept it for the first half of the second. That 15-play drive was capped with a 2-yard TD run by Smith with 6:05 left in the half. Patrom’s PAT was good, which cut Lonoke’s lead to 19-14.

Once again, though, Lonoke’s offense answered with a touchdown. Starting from their own 44, the Jackrabbits marched down the field in 10 plays and scored on a 5-yard option keeper by Rountree with 1:15 to go in the half.

The 2-point try was unsuccessful, which made the score 25-14. Beebe’s offense tried to answer before the half. Starting from its own 35, Beebe’s Wyrick took the first handoff 10 yards for a first down, but the senior standout back didn’t get up after the play.

Wyrick stayed down for a lengthy period, and had to be carted off the field with what appeared to be a significant leg injury. Beebe managed two more first downs before time ran out on the Badgers in the first half, with the score 25-14 at halftime.

Things didn’t get any better for Beebe in the second half. The Badgers had the first possession of the second half, but on the Badgers’ first play of the half, they fumbled and the ball was recovered by Lonoke’s Kane Williams at the Badger 46-yard line.

Lonoke’s offense made Beebe pay for the mistake by marching the ball down field and scoring in eight plays. The score came on a 9-yard TD run by running back Josh Coleman with 8:34 to play in the third quarter. Rountree took an option keeper in for the successful 2-point conversion, which gave Lonoke a comfortable 33-14 lead.

The two teams traded possessions before Beebe scored on a 1-yard TD burst by Smith with 6:29 left in the final quarter. Woodall added the 2-point conversion to cut the Jackrabbit lead to 33-22.

Beebe’s onside kick was covered by Lonoke at the Badger 49, and the Jackrabbits sealed the victory with a seven-play drive that led to a 7-yard touchdown run by Logan Dozier with 3:17 left in the game. Dozier’s touchdown also set the final score.

“Hats off to them,” said Beebe coach John Shannon of Lonoke. “They played exceptionally well and we didn’t play as well as we needed to. We had a couple of turnovers. Offensively, they had their way with us.

“Last week, the defense played really well and not so well this week. Of course, losing Jo’Vaughn really kind of took the wind out of our sails. I thought the kids fought hard, but you take someone like Jo’Vaughn out of the lineup it’s tough.”

Lonoke ended the rivalry game with 395 yards of offense. Beebe finished the night with 264 offensive yards, but had just 88 in the second half.

Coleman led Lonoke’s ground game with 28 carries for 165 yards and a touchdown. Meadows had five carries for 109 yards and two TDs. Rountree was 2 for 2 passing for 23 yards, and he added 11 carries for 66 yards and two TDs. Dozier contributed four carries for 32 yards and one score.

For Beebe, Smith led the backfield with 27 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Wyrick had seven carries for 67 yards and a score, and Woodall added nine carries for 57 yards.

The Jackrabbits will look to improve their record to 3-0 next week at home against Class 5A McClellan, a team that came back late to beat Lonoke a year ago. Beebe will try and rebound next week against Vilonia in what will be the Badgers’ home opener. Kickoff for next Friday’s nonconference finales will begin at 7 p.m.