Saturday, September 23, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Searcy escapes Titans

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Titans played Searcy a lot tougher than most of the state’s football prophets predicted, but it wasn’t quite tough enough to get the win Friday at Jan Crow Stadium. The Lions didn’t get close to their average of 54 points per game, but they got 35-20 win in the first 6A-East Conference game for both teams this season.

While Jacksonville didn’t get the win, it did get the highlight play of the year so far. Facing third and 23 from their own 6-yard line, Searcy pressure forced a fumble in the end zone. After one Titan jumped on the ball only for it to squirt loose again, senior running back Shawn Ellis scooped it up at the 1-yard line and ran 99 yards for the score. The extra point made it a one-possession game at 28-20 with just more than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

While the Jacksonville defense was remarkable overall, it couldn’t get the necessary stop on the next drive to give the Titans the ball with a chance to tie. Searcy’s Division I quarterback prospect, Mason Schucker, passed and ran his way in small bits to the Jacksonville 17-yard line.

The defense moved the Lions backwards from there, foring fourth down and 12 when Schucker found receiver Tim Williams in the end zone for the 19-yard touchdown pass with 6:10 remaining.

Jacksonville got one first down on its next possession, but a dropped pass on second and 7 and a subsequent penalty thwarted the drive and Jacksonville turned it over on downs with four minutes to go. Searcy got one first down and ran out the clock to seal the win.

Jacksonville’s defense kept Searcy out of the end zone the entire first quarter. It was the first quarter this season the Lions did not score. They finally got on the board with 5:30 left in the first half when a short punt gave Searcy a short field on the Jacksonville 40.

Running back Gabe Chap-man went 23 yards on first down to the 17. Two more Chapman runs got it to the 2-yard line, and Schucker sneaked it in from there for the 7-0 Searcy lead.

Jacksonville tied it right back up on the ensuing drive. Quarterback Shavarris Curley hit receiver Harderrious Martin for 21 yards on third and 13. Two plays later, Curley found Ellis in the end zone from 6 yards out with 2:01 left until halftime.

That was just enough time for Searcy to have a drive like it had enjoyed in its first three games. The Lions (4-0, 1-0) went 80 yards in a 1:34 to take a 14-7 lead into intermission.

Chapman scored on the opening drive of the second half to give Searcy a 21-7 lead, but Jacksonville (1-3, 0-1) answered with a 10-yard touchdown run by Ellis that set up the wild fourth quarter.