Tuesday, September 08, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits race to win at Star City

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke Jackrabbits ended their four-game losing streak to Star City in Friday’s regular season opener on the road, and they did so with six touchdowns by senior speedster Justin Meadows en route to a 38-27 victory over the third-ranked Bulldogs.

Meadows, who accounted for 1,491 yards from scrimmage as a junior, scored in all three phases of the game Friday. He scored three rushing touchdowns, threw for a touchdown, returned a punt for a touchdown and returned a fumble for a touchdown to account for all six Jackrabbit scores.

“He had a great game,” said Lonoke coach Doug Bost of Meadows. “He started us off with a sweep for a touchdown, then we turn back around on defense and after a couple of plays we cause a fumble and he ran it back for a touchdown.

“All said and done, he ran for three, he threw one, he scooped and scored one, and he returned a punt for one, and he had some good yards on kickoff return. There were several tackles he had, had 175 yards rushing, so he did have a huge night for us.”

Offensively, Meadows finished the night with eight carries for 175 yards rushing with three scores. Meadows first scored on a 73-yard run less than two minutes into the first quarter. The PAT was no good, leaving the score 6-0 Jackrabbits.

About a minute later, Meadows’ second score came on a fumble recovery that was returned 52 yards. The extra point once again failed, but the TD put Lonoke up 12-0. Star City, who was picked in the preseason to win the tough 4A-8 Conference, scored the final points of the opening quarter.

The Bulldogs’ first score came on a 17-yard draw play by senior quarterback Tye Brown. Brown, a three-year starter for the Bulldogs, owns every school passing record. Andy Magana kicked the extra point to cut the Rabbits’ lead to 12-7.

Lonoke (1-0) struck first in the second quarter, when Meadows threw a 15-yard TD pass to junior wideout Casey Martin with just below five minutes left in the half. Meadows scored the 2-point conversion to push the Jackrabbits’ lead to 20-7.

Shortly after, Meadows returned a Bulldog punt 80 yards for another score. The extra point was unsuccessful, leaving the score 26-7 Lonoke. Star City, though, wouldn’t go away quietly.

The veteran-led Bulldogs (0-1) cut the Jackrabbits’ lead down to 26-21 by the end of the third quarter. They scored touchdowns on a 7-yard run by Eric Briggs with 4:42 left in the third, and an 8-yard run by Hayden Jacks with 12 seconds left.

“We did come out flat in the third quarter,” Bost said. “Their coach (Jett Furneaux) probably gave them a wake-up call at halftime, because they were tough in the third quarter. But we were able to regroup and start getting some first downs on offense there in the fourth quarter.”

Lonoke pushed its lead back to double digits 3:45 into the fourth quarter on a 33-yard TD run by Meadows, his second rushing TD of the game. That put Lonoke up 32-21.

Star City scored just over two minutes later on a 3-yard run by Jacks. The PAT was no good, leaving the score 32-27. Both teams traded possessions before Lonoke converted a huge fourth-and-1 play that put the game away.

Taking the snap at the Star City 20-yard line, Meadows scored the final points of the night late in the game on a 20-yard run on fourth and 1. Lonoke’s defense held Star City scoreless the rest of the way, giving the Jackrabbits the double-digit victory.

“We got down to fourth and 1 and we needed a play,” Bost said. “He (Meadows) was able to take it in from 20 yards out.”

Meadows ended the game with 292 all-purpose yards. He had 175 yards rushing, 15 passing, 80 yards on punt return and 22 on kickoff return. Lonoke junior Logan Dozier had five carries for 64 yards Friday, and senior running back Josh Coleman had 11 carries for 45 yards.

On defense, senior Mike linebacker Ethan Holland led the team with 12 tackles. Meadows and sophomore defensive tackle Michael Hodges contributed seven tackles each.