Saturday, November 07, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> McClellan pummels Red Devils

Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville didn’t get to end its season on a high note Friday night at Jan Crow Stadium, as visiting McClellan shut out the Red Devils in the second half on its way to a dominant 60-18 win.

The game began on Thursday, but a power outage in that part of the city caused the game to be pushed back to Friday. The score was tied at 6-6 when the game was called Thursday, and on Friday, play resumed with 1:54 left in the first quarter and the score tied at 6-6.

Jacksonville (2-7, 2-4) and McClellan (7-2, 5-1) both scored on their first two offensive possessions Friday, but the Red Devils turned it over on downs on their third drive Friday, and the Crimson Lions added a touchdown and two-point conversion before halftime to lead 28-18 at the break.

The second half was all McClellan, as the Lions found the end zone on their first three drives of the second half, and on defense, they forced two safeties and returned a fumble for a touchdown late, which led to the 42-point win.

“McClellan’s got a good football team,” said Jacksonville coach Barry Hickingbotham. “They’ve got some good running backs. Number five (Pierre Strong), he’s just a great player.

“We had some kids sitting out tonight because they couldn’t get to practice on time and things like that. We knew this was our last game. We wanted to keep it close. We had a lot of kids out there that still fought and played hard till the last whistle.

“It’s just a tough deal, man. We had kids play tonight that got some exposure that hadn’t played all year, which is good for those kids because they stepped out here and they practiced and played as hard as they could. It was just a tough year – just a tough year.”

Jacksonville struck first Thursday, scoring on a 1-yard run by Shawn Ellis with 3:27 to go in the first quarter. Strong matched the score on the Lions’ next drive with a 3-yard run with 1:54 left in the first. That was when the game was called because of the power outage.

The Red Devils struck first Friday on the first drive, scoring on a 23-yard run by Robbie Knowlin with 15 seconds left in the first quarter. McClellan answered with a 7-play drive that ended with a 30-yard touchdown run by quarterback Dalvion Childs with 8:16 to go in the second quarter. That tied the game at 12-12.

Jacksonville quarterback HarDerrious Martin answered with a 2-yard score at the 5:41 mark of the second quarter, giving Jacksonville an 18-12 lead. McClellan took the lead for good with 3:54 left in the half on a 10-yard scoring run by Childs. Strong added the two-point conversion to give the Lions a 20-18 lead.

A fake punt by Jacksonville was stopped inches shy of a first down on the Devils’ next possession. That set the Lions up at the JHS 17. A delay of game followed, but Strong scored on the next play and the two-point conversion made it 28-18 at halftime.

The first half was marred with penalties. The two teams combined for 20 first-half penalties for a total of 130 yards – 75 by McClellan and 55 by Jacksonville. The Red Devils also had two players ejected by halftime – one for a late hit and the other for a thrown punch on the last play of the first half.

Trenton Lewis scored McClellan’s first three touchdowns of the second half, and the Lions converted 2 of 3 two-point conversion attempts. Before Lewis’ third score, McClellan’s defense got its first safety on a high snap that was booted out of the back of the end zone by the JHS punter with 5:18 left in the third.

The next safety was a dropped punt snap that was stuffed in the back of the end zone with 5:23 to play. That invoked the mercy rule, with the score 54-18, and the final score was set on McClellan’s 60-plus yard fumble return for a touchdown.

McClellan finished with 388 yards of offense. Strong led the way with 18 carries for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Jacksonville had 140 yards, with Knowlin leading with 10 carries for 71 yards and a score.