Saturday, October 21, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Titans in tough scrap with unbeaten Devils

Special to The Leader

WEST MEMPHIS – Jacksonville head coach Barry Hickingbotham threw the kitchen sink at West Memphis here Friday night, and it ended up giving the Titans a legit shot to upset the Blue Devils.

The Jacksonville offense shortened the game by using the entire play clock through most of the game and Hickingbotham switched quarterbacks, all of which put the Titans in position to make a run at the hosts before West Memphis pulled out a 24-14 victory.

The Titans (3-5 overall, 2-3 in the 6A-East Conference) controlled the time of possession through the first three-and-a-half quarters and substitute quarterback Shavarris Curley was solid in replacing regular starter H.D. Martin.

Hickingbotham said he wanted to play Martin sparingly because “he’d gotten banged up the last game (against Little Rock Hall).
Curley was superb.

He completed 18 of 24 passes for 155 yards and no interceptions against a vaunted Blue Devil defense that has dominated in most games this season.

“Curley did a heck of a job and competed hard,” Hickingbotham said. “He missed a few reads, but he also made several good reads.”
Hickingbotham said he would make a decision on his starting quarterback sometime next week for the game against Marion.

Although Martin saw little of the playing field, he managed to break loose for a 69-yard touchdown with 9:39 to play in the fourth quarter that sliced West Memphis’ lead to 24-14.

“(Martin’s) very elusive and he showed it on that play,” Hickingbotham said.
Other than Martin’s 69-yard touchdown, it was a slow go for the Jacksonville ground game. West Memphis held the Titans to 11 first-half yards on the ground, but Curley’s short passes found a crease in the Blue Devil defense.

West Memphis jumped out to a 10-0 lead on a 32-yard field goal by Dylan Wiggington and a 1-yard touchdown from quarterback Michael Troxler.

But the Titans came back with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Curley to Deboous Cobbs to make it 10-7.

The Blue Devils (8-0, 5-0) led 24-7 at halftime thanks to a touchdown by Kelvin Love, who replaced regular starting running back Guren Holmes, who injured his knee after rushing for 101 first-half yards, and a 37-yard touchdown pass from Troxler to Amaurius Stinnett.

West Memphis head coach Billy Elmore wasn’t happy with his team’s focus after it recorded a big win at Jonesboro last week ahead of facing Pine Bluff next Friday night for a game that should determine the conference champion.

“We were flat, no doubt about it,” Elmore stated. “You never know what goes through the minds of 17-year-olds. But it’s still a victory and we’re playing for the conference championship next week.”

The Titans held West Memphis, a team that came in averaging 40.7 points per game, scoreless in the second half.

Jacksonville had one last shot at the Blue Devils when Tamad Tyler recovered a Troxler fumble at the Titan 10 with 1:50 to play. But the West Memphis defense dug in and forced the visitors to turn it over on downs with 24 seconds to play in the contest.

The Titans (3-5, 2-3) will host Marion at Jan Crow Stadium next Friday. The Patriots (3-5, 2-3) lost 41-12 to Pine Bluff on Friday.