Friday, June 17, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Bears win three at 7-on-7

Leader sports editor

In pulsating heat, the Sylvan Hills Bears hosted the annual Pulaski Robinson 7-on-7 Tournament on Thursday because Robinson’s field is under construction for new turf. The Bears went 3-2, losing their first and last games, and winning three in a row in between.

The Bears’ coaching staff decided to give junior backup quarterback Ryan Lumpkin most of the playing time in the first two games. Lumpkin missed offseason as a starter on Sylvan Hills’ state runner up baseball team.

“One of the things we’re trying to do with this summer stuff is build some depth,” Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow said. “We played Lumpkin the whole game against Pine Bluff and he struggled. He hasn’t been here and it was just fast for him. He got better as it went along. We started him in the second game and things started to slow down for him. Jordan (Washington) finished it up and he looked really good.”

Sylvan Hills finished up its three games of pool play with a 30-19 win over LR Central.

The format gave teams seven points for a touchdown with the option of going for an eighth point with a play from the 10-yard line. Defenses could score two points for a stoppage on downs, and three points for an interception.

In the first game of bracket play, the Bears defeated Watson Chapel 26-17. The Bears’ defense only allowed five complete passes the entire game, and turned the momentum on Chapel’s third drive with an interception.

Chapel got the ball first and scored on 2 of 5 passing. The Bears were one play away from getting the ball back, but gave up a 25-yard completion on third down. After another incomplete pass, the Bears lost the Wildcats’ underneath man and he scored on a crossing route for a 7-0 lead.

It took just two plays for Sylvan Hills to answer. Washington found Young-blood for 15 yards, then hit Jamar Lane in the back of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown that tied the game.

The Bears scored two points when it stopped Chapel on downs on the ensuing possession, but then fell behind when Chapel got three points by picking off a 40-yard pass attempt at the goal line.

The Chapel defensive back was beat on the throw down the middle, but made an acrobatic play to get the pick. In a horizontal dive, he got his hand on the ball just before it fell into the arms of receiver Jamar Porter, tipped it in the air and pulled it into his chest as he crashed to the ground.

“We told Jordan he maybe could’ve made that read a little earlier, but man, that was just a great play, probably the best play of the day,” said Withrow.

Chapel’s celebration didn’t last long. On the very next play, Sylvan Hills defensive back Anthony Duncan put the Bears back in the lead with his own goal-line interception of a 40-yard pass attempt.

Chapel’s pass was high and short and resulted in a jump ball between the Chapel receiver and the Sylvan Hills high-hurdles specialist, a jump ball Duncan won that put the Bears ahead 12-10.

Washington missed his first pass of the next possession, but connected with Jamar Lane for 17 yards on second down. On the next play, he found Payton Terry from 23 yards out for a touchdown and a 19-10 lead.

Chapel scored in four plays on the next possession to get back to within two points, but the Bears answered with the help of two dead ball penalties by the Wildcats.

The first was for taunting after a Chapel player ripped the helmet off running back Deion Youngblood. The second was for cursing at the official. Sylvan Hills only had 9 yards of offense on the 40-yard drive. Porter hauled in the touchdown pass from 4 yards out to make the score 26-17.

Chapel thought it had scored on the very next play, but the 40-yard completion was negated when it was ruled the pass was not thrown within the allotted four seconds of the snap – a sack in 7-on-7.

The Bears turned around and played Robinson without a break, and the energy level was low. Robinson won the game 30-21 to advance to the tournament championship, where it lost to Little Rock Christian Academy.

The key play was a third and 1 for Sylvan Hills while trailing 14-7. Washington rolled right as Youngblood cut across left to right.

The two were less than 5 yards apart and no defender within 10 yards. It would have been an easy first down, but Washington lobbed the ball over Youngblood’s head, resulting in a turnover on downs and a 16-7 Senator lead.

“He tried to put some touch on it instead of just throwing it,” Withrow said. “There’s a fine line between lobbing it up there and firing it 90 miles an hour. He has to find that middle ground on plays like that. But that was really his only bad throw of the whole day. He played extremely well, especially his deep ball. He’s getting some calls (from Division I colleges) right now, but he’s going to have a whole lot more if he does what I think he’s getting ready to do this year.”

Withrow is encouraged by what he’s seen so far this summer in one team camp and two 7-on-7 tournaments.

“Defensively, we’re going to be better (than last year). We’re still having some confusion on underneath stuff, crossing routes. We’ll get that cleaned up and make it better. The lineman played well at Ouachita team camp. We’re going to be bigger than we were last year. I don’t know if we’re as quick, but we’re going to be bigger. We have some sophomores that are going to play and they have to get stronger, but we’re seeing that happen.”