Saturday, October 03, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe outlasts Jacksonville

Leader sports editor

Wild special teams plays and a series of late turnovers highlighted a crazy 13-12 victory for the Beebe Badgers on Friday at Jacksonville’s Jan Crow Stadium.

The one thing Beebe could not afford was another injury to a starting back, and that’s what it got when starting quarterback Justin Burlison was knocked out of the game early in the second quarter. Beebe’s second and third quarterbacks were already out with injuries suffered last week, leaving the job to senior inside linebacker Bo Smith for the rest of the game.

Beebe coach John Shannon could only remark about his team’s perseverance after the game.

“It just shows that these kids are made of something,” said Shannon. “Overcoming adversity has sort of been our rallying cry all season and all offseason long. They stepped up and overcame a lot tonight. We took another big blow tonight with injuries, but they just kept fighting. I’m so proud of them.

“Give Jacksonville credit, too. Their defense played great. They made a couple of fourth-down stops. My hat’s off to them. But when our offense wasn’t working, our defense stepped up and made the plays we needed to win.”

Jacksonville scored once in the first half, but neither team could get much going on offense the entire game. Three quarters with little excitement was followed by a wild fourth quarter.

The Badgers trailed 12-0 with 11:22 left in the game after a bad punt snap by Jacksonville turned into a Red Devil touchdown. The snap from the Jacksonville 42-yard line rolled back to kicker Tyler Hooper, who scooped it up and tried to get the punt away under heavy pressure.

The kick only made it to the 41-yard line. Beebe began running off the field celebrating the play, but since the ball did not reach the original line of scrimmage, it was still live. Jacksonville’s Marcus Casey picked it up and ran it 59 yards into the end zone. After another long delay while officials met with each other and escorted Beebe defensive coordinator Sean Robertson off the field, the officials ruled a touchdown for Jacksonville.

A two-point conversion attempt failed when quarterback Brandon Hickingbotham was sacked, leaving it 12-0.

Bo Smith then engineered Beebe’s best drive of the game, marching the Badgers 57 yards in just six plays. Tyler Woodall went 18 yards on third and 2. Trip Smith carried twice for 14 yards. Connor Patrom picked up 6 to set up first down at the Jacksonville 15.

From there, Bo Smith kept on the option right, broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage, got stood up at the 4 but continued to barrel his way into the end zone with 9:18 remaining. Beebe’s extra point attempt failed as well, leaving it 12-6 with 9:18 remaining.

Jacksonville’s next drive was a disaster. Before a play was run, the Red Devils were called for illegal procedure. Three straight runs by Malcolm Crudup picked up 13 and left Jacksonville with fourth and 2.

After a timeout, Jacksonville failed to get its play called in time, and had to take another timeout, its last of the game. After another discussion, the punt team took the field, and another bad snap led to Beebe’s go-ahead score.

This time the snap from the 46-yard line sailed over Hooper’s head. He chased it down and picked it up at about the 15-yard line. He was slung to the ground by the pursuing Beebe defense and lost the football in the process.

It rolled back into the end zone, where Patrom covered with 6:49 to play. Patrom also hit the game-winning extra point that set the final margin.

Jacksonville started its next drive at its own 33 and got two big runs. The first one was by Crudup and the second by Shawn Ellis. But Ellis was stripped at the end of his run and Patrom covered it for the Badgers on the Beebe 34.

The Jacksonville defense held and forced a punt. The offense took over on its own 26 with 4:14 remaining in the game.

On second down, Hickingbotham hit Stevie Eskridge for a 16-yard pickup, and later found Deboious Cobbs for a 14-yard gain. A 12-yard run by Crudup was negated by a holding penalty, something that plagued the Red Devils throughout the game. But Jacksonville overcame the first and 21 situation and converted the fourth and 3 with an 8-yard draw play to Ellis. After an incomplete pass, another long run was called back for holding, setting up second and 19 at the 32.

Hickingbotham then threw to Harderrious Martin in the end zone, but Patrom recovered on the play and picked it off with 1:22 remaining to seal the win.

Burlison was carted off the field on a stretcher and driven away in an ambulance after taking a big hit on a pass play on second down and 22. Jacksonville’s Eskridge intercepted the pass and returned it to the Badger 45-yard line.

After a long delay for medics to tend to Burlison, Jacksonville scored in two plays. Crudup went up the middle for 9 yards on first down. Ellis then went up the middle for 36 and the first and only score of the first half.

The extra point attempt was blocked, leaving the score 6-0 with 6:38 remaining in the second quarter.

Beebe finished with 273 total yards of offense, all on the ground, while Jacksonville had 260. Jacksonville rushed for 199 and threw for 61. Casey’s one run of 58 yards led the Red Devils. Ellis carried 10 times for 56 yards and Crudup carried eight times for 48.

The Red Devils were called for 10 penalties for 85 yards, including five holding penalties that all negated plays of at least 9 yards. One of the penalties called back a 60-yard punt return to the Beebe 3-yard line by Martin. The other four called back runs of 9, 10, 10 and 12 yards.

Beebe had two turnovers and Jacksonville three. All three of the Red Devil turnovers came in the last seven minutes of the fourth quarter.

Trip Smith carried 31 times for 186 yards for the Badgers to lead all rushers.

Both teams play undefeated teams next week. The Badgers (2-3, 1-1) travel to Pulaski Academy next Friday while Jacksonville (1-4, 1-1) goes to Sylvan Hills.