Saturday, October 15, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills helps out Bruins

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills defense held the vaunted Pulaski Academy offense to as little output as any team in recent memory, but four turnovers and a devastating loss of composure kept the Bears from pulling off the victory. Pulaski Academy scored two touchdowns in an 88-second span late in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 35-23 win over the Bears on Friday in Little Rock.

Sylvan Hills trailed 14-10 at halftime, but scored quickly and had all the momentum until receiver Jamar Lane couldn’t control himself in an altercation at midfield.

Sylvan Hills needed just two plays and 52 seconds to take the lead at the start of the third quarter. One play after covering the onside kick to start the half, quarterback Jordan Washington kept on the zone read and went 40 yards up the middle to give Sylvan Hills a 17-10 lead.

The Bears then stopped PA when safety Eric Waddell intercepted a Layne Hatcher pass that bounced off receiver Brett Lynch.

Sylvan Hills took over on its own 34, and faced third and 7 when a pass to Lane fell incomplete. A Bruin defender shoved Lane after the play, and drew a flag that would have given the Bears a first down. But Lane ran around a teammate who had stepped between the two and shoved the PA player back. That drew another flag that made the penalties offsetting and gave the Bears fourth down.

On the next play, the punt snap sailed over Ryan Lumpkin’s head and resulted in PA falling on the ball at the Sylvan Hills 4-yard line.

One player later, tailback Jaren Watkins scored to give the Bruins a 21-17 lead with 8:05 to go in the fourth quarter.

“When we went and scored on them and took the lead, I thought we were about to run away with this thing,” said Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow. “Then when we got the stop and they got that penalty, it looked like we had them on the ropes. I get why the retaliation. The guy kind of shoved him in the face and it makes you mad. But you got to leave it alone. If he walks away from that, it’s first down and we’re moving again about to go up two scores. Instead we get the punt snap and now they’re ahead again.”

Neither offense could get anything going again until late in the fourth quarter.

PA converted a fourth and 14 when Layne found Lynch 28 yards downfield to the Bear 15-yard line. Four plays later on first and goal from the 3, Layne and Lynch hooked up again, this time on a bootleg right with 6:55 left in the game. The extra point made it 28-17.

On the ensuing possession, Sylvan Hills faced third and 6 when defensive end Will Hart blocked a Washington pass behind the line of scrimmage, and came down with the ball. He had nothing between himself and the goal line, and raced 50 yards for the score and a 35-17 PA lead with 5:28 to go.

Sylvan Hills had enough left to make it interesting. The Bears scored in three plays when Washington found Lane from 30 yards out with 4:24 to go, and then covered an onside kick on their own 45.

Washington hit Lumpkin for 12 yards on third and 10, then found Lane for 17 more yards to the 26. A short pass to Youngblood turned into first and goal at the 8, but the comeback ended there.

PA’s Dylan Nosler picked off a Washington pass at the goal line. The Bruins needed just one first down, and got it before taking a knee to run out the clock.

The first half saw PA score quickly before also turning into a defensive struggle.

The Bruins got the ball first and after a quick false-start penalty, needed just three plays to 77 yards and a touchdown. The key play was a 50-yard pass from quarterback Luke Hatcher to receiver Ray Jackson just 62 seconds into the game.

PA converted a two-point play as well to take a quick 8-0 lead.

The Bears defense dominated for most of the rest of the half, but the offense couldn’t get into a rhythm.

The Bears did manage an 11-play drive after covering the Bruins’ onside kick at midfield. But the drive stalled on fourth and 4 when Washington could only get 3 yards to the PA 18.

The Bruins went backwards on their next drive, starting with a sack on first down by Bear defender Kaleb Hughes. Two more plays gained 12 yards to set up fourth and 4 at the 24-yard line. PA went for it and failed, throwing incomplete under pressure from the Bear defense.

But Sylvan Hills couldn’t capitalize. On third and 4, Andre Collins went in at tailback and fumbled after breaking a pair of tackles and PA took over on its own 16.

Hughes got another sack on first down, and Ty Compton sacked Hatcher on second down to set up third and 19 from the 7-yard line. An incomplete pass made it fourth and 19, and PA went for it again. This time even more pressure from Compton forced Hatcher to heave the ball to midfield where Anthony Duncan knocked the ball down and the Bears took over on the Bruin 7.

Once again the offense sputtered, losing 5 yards before sophomore place kicker Tito Mendoza put the Bears on the board with a 29-yard field goal with 35 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

PA drove from its own 30 to the Sylvan Hills 9, but failed to convert on fourth and 3, and Sylvan Hills took over.

The Bears went three and out and punted, putting the Bruins on their own 29.

On third and 10, Davien Farr got to Hatcher for a 19-yard loss, setting up fourth and 29 from the 10-yard line.

Again PA went for it. This time Duncan cost his team 10 yards by intercepting the ball at the 20 and returning it 10 yards to the 20. That’s where the offense took over,

Washington gained 8 yards on first down, but the yardage was lost and then some for a personal foul after the play.

Two more plays left the Bears with fourth down and 7 from the 17. That’s when Washington hit Jamar Lane on a fade route to the back left corner of the end zone.

Mendoza’s extra point gave the Bears a 10-8 lead with 4:53 left in the half.

PA didn’t sputter at all on the ensuing drive, taking just 35 seconds to run three plays for 80 yards and a touchdown.

Again it was Jackson who made the final play, a 44-yard reception from Hatcher. The Bruins failed to convert for two, leaving the score 14-10 going into halftime.

“I was so proud of our defense,” Withrow said. “They all played extremely well. We just did not play well on offense. Had some personnel issues, and that’s ultimately my fault. So I’ll take the blame for that.”

Both teams were held to their lowest yardage output of the season. PA (6-1, 3-0) managed just 281 total yards while the Bears (6-1, 2-1) gained 260.

The Bruins will host Parkview next Friday. The Patriots (2-5, 1-2) lost 51-7 to LR Christian on Friday.