Saturday, September 03, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke beats old foe Bison

Special to The Leader

When Lonoke hosted Carlisle Friday night at Abraham Stadium, it was the first time the two teams had met since 1990. The game was close the first half, but the home team took advantage of second half turnovers by the Bison to pull away in the second half for the final 41-28 advantage.

“Turnovers killed us in the first half,” said Lonoke coach Doug Best. “We had three fumbles. You can’t put points on the board by doing that. We cleaned it up in the second half, didn’t have any turnovers, and I’m proud of our defense. We made the adjustment at halftime, and the first group didn’t allow any points. That was the key to the game. Twenty-six years is a long time. It was a good crowd, one of the biggest I’ve seen here at Lonoke. They came out, and they hit us in the mouth. They gave us a game. I’m proud of how the boys responded the second half, came back and finished the job.”

Lonoke’s E’shaun Brown returned the opening kickoff to the 47-yard line. Quarterback Braidon Bryant ran for 14 yards, and then Michael Hodges picked up 16 yards on three consecutive carries. Bryant connected with Isaac Toney for 19 yards and a first and goal on the 9-yard line. Hodges finished the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run to get the Jackrabbits on the board first. Mario Reyes added the extra point for the 7-0 early lead.

Carlisle answered right back, moving down the field from the 16-yard line with a run of 13 yards by Ty Golleher, and a 38-yard completion from quarterback Carson Cunningham to Golleher. The Bison scored with 14 seconds to go in the first quarter on a 1-yard plunge by Golleher. The extra point try was no good, leaving the score 7-6.

Lonoke fumbled twice on its next possession, and the second went to the Bison. Carlisle turned the ball back over on downs, just to have the Jackrabbits lose another fumble to them.

Taking advantage of great field position on the Lonoke 19-yard line, the Bison used runs by Golleher and Devon Kendrick to score and take the lead with 2:47 to go in the half. Kendrick scored the touchdown from four yards out.

Carlisle went for the two-point conversion, but Brown tackled the quarterback in the backfield, leaving Carlisle’s advantage at 12-7.

Xavier Hodge took the first play of the Lonoke possession 54 yards to the Bison 16-yard line. Bryant completed an 11-yard pass to Hodge, and Hodge ran again for 9 before Bryant took the ball into the end zone from 1 yard out as time expired in the half. Reyes added the extra point for a 14-12 halftime score.

Lonoke opened the second half with an 83-yard touchdown run by Steven Barrett. Reyes added the extra point, and the lead was 21-12. The Jackrabbits struck again on a 22-yard pick six by Hodge, increasing the lead to 28-12 with the extra point by Reyes.

Kameron Cole intercepted a pass on the next Bison possession, leading to another Lonoke score on a 20-yard quarterback draw by Bryant. The lead was now 34-12.

The Jackrabbits scored once more in the third quarter on a 1-yard keeper by Bryant with 14.9 seconds remaining. Again, Reyes was good for the extra point, and the lead had grown to 41-12.

Carlisle scored twice in the fourth quarter, the first on a 23-yard run by Kendrick. JaSean Harper scored the two-point conversion for a score of 41-20 with 2:13 remaining. Harper then scored from 1-yard out, and quarterback Braiden Jenkins was complete to Kendrick for the two-point conversion to set the final score at 41-28.

“I don’t like it to end that way, but the first half fight was pretty good,” said Bison coach Mark Uhiren. “I think that surprised many, many people. They are a 4A football team and a pretty good 4A football team. We are just a real, real small 2A team. It’s really hard to look a bunch of kids in the eye and go play a big team like that and still have the fight they had. I’m okay with that. I know we got tired, and we are going to continue to condition and work hard.”

Lonoke had 337 yards of total offense, 267 yards rushing and 70 passing. The Bison had 341 total yards of offense.

Hodge rushed for 81 yards for Lonoke, and Bryant 47 yards and three touchdowns.

Kendrick had 97 yards, two touchdowns, and one two-point conversion for Carlisle. Golleher had 62 yards rushing, a 38-yard reception, and one touchdown.

Lonoke (1-0) will be at Beebe Friday night, while Carlisle (0-1) will host DeWitt.