Saturday, October 15, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Late score lifts Titans over Hall in thriller

Special to The Leader

The Jacksonville Titans came from behind in thrilling fashion Friday to earn a 32-28 homecoming victory over Little Rock Hall.

Both teams entered the game winless in the 6A-East and needed a win to keep playoff hopes alive.

Trailing 28-26 with 4:29 remaining, Jacksonville forced a punt, then drove 60 yards down the field before sputtering to fourth and 9 at the Hall 29-yard line.

On fourth and 9, quarterback Harderrious Martin threw to the back of the end zone, where Jonathan Hall made a diving catch to give the Titans the lead with only :42 on the clock.

“I’m excited for our kids,” said Jacksonville coach Barry Hickingbotham. “The guys played hard. I’m glad they had some success. They deserved to win. They never gave up, they just kept playing. Hall’s got some good football players.

We talked about the speed they’ve got, and it showed up tonight. I’m just glad for our kids, that we kept competing. The offensive line got better tonight. We ran the football really well. We found a play that would work for us, and we just kept doing it. The kids believed in it. When your kids are believing in what you’re doing, you can have success. Hopefully, we can grow up and get ready for next Friday. I’m proud of them for never giving up. I’m proud of our coaches for keeping our heads up on the sidelines. I’m proud of the seniors. I’m happy for those guys.”

Jacksonville had the ball first on its own 42-yard line. Martin ran for 29 yards on the first play from scrimmage. Then on the third play, it was Martin again for 33 yards and a touchdown. Darryl Kimble-Brooks added the extra point for the 7-0 early edge.

On Hall’s first play, a pass by quarterback Jaden McGraw was intercepted by Tamod Tyler, and the Titans were again in scoring position on the 30-yard line of the Warriors.

Shawn Ellis had runs of nine, eleven, and four yards to the 11-yard line, from which Martin found Myles Mason for a touchdown reception. The extra point was again good by Kimble-Brooks and the lead was 14-0 with 8:32 remaining in the opening quarter.

Hall answered right back with a 60-yard touchdown run by Caezar Warren. The two-point conversion attempt was not successful, but the lead was cut to 14-6 with 7:44 to go in the quarter.

Issac Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff to the Warrior 38-yard line, and again the Titans had good field position. Ellis ran for nine yards, Martin completed a pass for three yards to Jonathan Hall, then again hit Hall for a 26-yard touchdown pass.

This time the point after was no good, and the score was 20-6, with 6:29 still left in the first quarter.

Both defenses held for the next several possessions, but Jacksonville turned the ball over on downs on its own 28-yard line, and the Warriors took advantage, with 5:34 remaining in the half, to score a touchdown and cut the lead to 20-12. Neither team could get to the end zone before the intermission, so that remained the halftime score.

On its first possession of the second half, Jacksonville had moved the ball from its own 20-yard line to the 7-yard line of Hall before penalties moved them backwards. Then on first and goal from the 23-yard line, a fumble occurred and the Warriors recovered.

It was Warren again with a 52-yard run that cut the lead to 20-18. The successful two-point conversion tied the score at 20-20 with 2:04 remaining in the third.

Hall gained the lead on yet another touchdown run by Warren, this time of 48 yards. The two-point conversion was good, also by Warren for the 28-20 advantage with 7:46 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Jacksonville responded with a 56-yard, eight-play drive on runs by Ellis and Martin to score with 4:29 left in the game. It was Ellis that took the ball in from 6 yards out for the touchdown. The two-point try to tie was no good, leaving the score 28-26.

Jacksonville had 451 total yards of offense, while Hall had 377.

Ellis had 210 yards rushing and one touchdown for the Titans, while Martin rushed for 90 yards, rushed for one touchdown and passed for three.

Jacksonville will host West Memphis on Friday night.