Saturday, October 23, 2010

SPORTS>>Second-half outburst lifts Beebe in blowout

By ray benton
Special to The Leader

A shootout turned into a rout at Bro Irwin Stadium in Beebe Friday night, as the Badgers ran away from Greene County Tech in the second half to take a 57-27 victory and stay undefeated in the 5A-East Conference.

Beebe (5-3, 5-0) trailed 21-14 with 10:20 left in the first half, but reeled off the next 37 points to take a commanding 51-21 lead with 6:45 remaining in the game.

“We’re just clicking right now on offense,” Beebe coach John Shannon said. “We challenged them all week to come out in the second half. We didn’t score to start the half at Blytheville and let them right back in it. Tonight they came out and answered the challenge.”

Beebe racked up 562 yards of offense, with all but 29 coming on the ground, but it was a crucial 29 yards.

With the score tied at 21, Beebe’s Dakota Lovston intercepted a Clayton Curtis pass - the only turnover of the game - to give the Badgers the ball with 3:32 left in the first half.

The Badger drive sputtered at the Tech 44-yard line, and the Eagles picked off a desperation heave at the buzzer for what would have ended the half. The Eagles, however, were flagged for a personal foul, giving Beebe an untimed play from the 29.

This time quarterback Scott Gowen found receiver Matthew Pursell cruising all alone down the right sideline for the score and a 28-21 lead.

The Badgers got the ball to start the second half and drove 65 yards in 11 plays before settling for a 25-yard field goal by Jordan Goss with 6:45 left in the third quarter.

When Beebe’s defense took the field for the first time in the half, the rout was on.

After getting torched for 245 yards in the first half, the Badger defense stiffened and Tech (4-4, 3-2) could barely move forward. In fact, the Eagles failed to run a play for positive yards in the second half until their third possession.

Tech’s first drive went backwards four yards before Beebe blocked a punt to set up a 13-yard scoring drive and a 38-21 lead.

The visitors’ second possession of the quarter went six yards in the wrong direction and was further hampered by another personal foul.

A Tech punt set Beebe up at its own 46, and the Badgers needed just two plays to make it 44-21. Colby Taylor went 53 yards with 46 seconds left in the third.

The Eagles’ next drive ended when Beebe stuffed a fourth-and-one at the 10-yard line.
From there, the Badger offense 90 yards in eight plays to put the Eagles down by 30. Jay Holdway got 68 of it in one play.

After the stellar first half for Tech, the Eagle offense managed just 73 yards in the second half.

“We thought we had a pretty good game plan defensively but they were doing a good job with their option stuff at pinching us and not letting us get outside,” Shannon said.

“We just took our ends off the pitch man and put them on the quarterback because we realized they were wanting their quarterback to run the ball.”

Taylor finished with 180 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Holdway ran the ball 15 times for 167 yards and three scores. 

SPORTS>>Red Devils stop Patriots, take win

By todd traub
Leader sports editor

Jacksonville continued its football revival Friday night.

The Red Devils notched their sixth victory, taking a 28-14, 7A/6A-East Conference victory at Little Rock Parkview.

The Red Devils avenged last year’s home loss to the Patriots, but then, Jacksonville has been getting a lot of payback this year after winning just two games last season.

In their first year under coach Rick Russell, the Devils have matched their 2008 victory total with two more games to play. Jacksonville last won a conference championship in 2006, when it won seven games.

Russell is Jacksonville’s former defensive coordinator who returned to the program after one year as North Pulaski’s head coach.

On Friday at Parkview, which beat Jacksonville 26-21 last year, the Red Devils shut out the Patriots in the second half, breaking a 14-14 halftime tie.

Jacksonville (6-2, 4-1) took the opening kickoff of the half and drove to score on quarterback Logan Perry’s one-yard run. 

The Red Devils then recovered an onside kick and made it 28-14 when Jamison Williams caught a six-yard pass from Perry.

The Red Devils had first and goal in the closing seconds but took a knee to run out the clock.

Jacksonville’s first-half touchdowns came on a run by Antwone Mosby and a 60-yard reception by D’Vone McClure as the Red Devils overcame deficits of 7-0 and 14-7.

Jacksonville is back at home next week to start what could be its toughest two-game stretch of the year.

Preseason conference favorite West Memphis, which has won the past six conference titles and 61 games in the previous six years and beat Jacksonville 42-0 last season, comes to Jan Crow stadium.

The Red Devils, already assured of making the state playoffs, follow that with a game at Marion, a postseason qualifier last year, on Nov. 5.

The state football playoffs begin this year on 12.

It is shaping up as a big week for Jacksonville. The junior high “Chili Bowl” against crosstown rival North Pulaski, begins at 5 p.m. on Thursday at Jan Crow.

Athletic director Jerry Wilson also announced a booster club meeting at the fieldhouse at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

SPORTS>>Falcons grab victory, put finish to skid

By Jason king
Leader sportswriter

The battle of the embattled winless teams went to North Pulaski in a 38-13 blowout over Crossett Friday at Falcon Stadium.

The Falcons (1-7, 1-4 5A-Southeast Conference) stuck with the run for all but two of their 309 total offensive yards.
Senior fullback Darius Cage led the way with nine carries for 113 and two touchdowns, while quarterback/running back Derrick Hart carried 15 times for 117 yards and a pair of scores, including a 38-yard touchdown run with 4:35 left to set the final score.

“We knew had to get the big guys the ball, so that’s what happened,” first-year Falcons coach Terrod Hatcher said. 

“The line blocked well compared to normal, so we’re excited about that. We’ve got a tough one coming up, so we’ll see if this helps us get a little momentum.”

Hatcher, 23, a Jacksonville High School alumnus, picked up his first career victory as a head coach. He was promoted from offensive coordinator late in the summer.

“Man, it was tough to lose so many; I’m not used to losing — I hate losing,” Hatcher said. “It feels good to get a win. 

So, we’ll see what happens later on.”

Cage gave the Falcons momentum on the first play of the second half when he broke free for a 68-yard touchdown run down the right side to give North Pulaski an 18-7 lead.

Sophomore Kaleb Meins scored a defensive touchdown for the Falcons with 2:10 left in the third when he picked up a fumble by Ferrell and returned it 44 yards. Hart ran in the two-point conversion to make it 26-7.

Crossett (0-8, 0-5) struggled to 134 yards of total offense, including a dismal 4-of-21 passing performance from Eagles quarterback Taylor Ferrell.

Most of Crossett’s yardage came courtesy of 15 North Pulaski penalties to the tune of 98 yards. Three of the penalties were personal fouls, and the Falcons racked up 11 motion penalties on offense.

“That’s our downfall; those penalties kill us,” Hatcher said.

Crossett was intent on using halfback Qua Brownboard as their workhorse back, but the Falcons defense had his number most of the night.

He wound up with 17 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown, but two of his last three rushes were for all but 16 of those yards.

The Falcons scored first on a 59-yard drive that took 12 plays and almost six minutes off the clock. Darius Cage’s seven-yard gain to start the drive was the biggest run of the series, as North Pulaski drudged its way onto the scoreboard with a one-yard sneak by Hart to cap it off with 4:20 left in the first quarter.

Austin Allen’s extra-point attempt was unsuccessful to keep the score 6-0.

Hart set up North Pulaski’s next score with a 35-yard run that took the Falcons from their own 39-yard line to the Crossett 13 after a face mask penalty against the Eagles was assessed. 

SPORTS>>Cabot volleyball sneaks its way in

Leader sportswriter 

The jumbling of 6A and 7A conferences played to Cabot’s benefit once the points were tabulated.

In a new wrinkle this year, some of the large schools played in hybrid, 7A/6A conferences and earned points toward postseason play before breaking into their respective classifications for the volleyball state tournaments.

The Lady Panthers finished 7A-Central play with a 3-11 record, and were seventh among their opponents. But with Van Buren and Russellville earning seeds in the 6A state tournament, the Lady Panthers edged out Little Rock Hall by three points for the final seed in the 7A state bracket.

“The young ones improved throughout the year, but I think the seniors did a good job of holding everything together,” Lady Panthers coach Terry Williams said. “They came through when they needed to and did what needed to be done.”

The Lady Panthers earned the No. 6 seed from the 7A-Central. They will take on West No. 3 seed Fort Smith Southside on Tuesday at 6 p.m. on the Bentonville High School campus.

The Lady Rebels finished 9-5 in the 7A-West and beat out Springdale Har-Ber for the third-seed tiebreaker.

“I haven’t seen them this year, but I know their tradition is always strong,” Williams said of Southside. “In the tournament, they always bring their best games, year in and year out.”

The Lady Panthers finished the final stretch of their league schedule with a victory over Little Rock Central, followed by losses to Mount St. Mary and 6A Van Buren.

Cabot lost its first four matches in the 7A-Central before posting its first victory against Little Rock Central. The winless Lady Tigers were the only team Cabot swept, and the Lady Panthers also defeated North Little Rock in the first week of October to accumulate just enough conference points to qualify for postseason play.

Seniors Jenny Evans and Ashley Daniels led the team with stellar performances that night, and Williams said their classmate Stevie Brock has improved throughout the season after limited playing time last year.

“Last year, we wouldn’t have made it,” Williams said. “If the brackets and records would have been the same, we wouldn’t have been in.”

Conway went unbeaten through regular-season, conference play to earn the No. 1 seed out of the 7A-Central and a first-round bye at the state tournament.

The Lady Wampus Cats will take on the winner between Springdale Har-Ber and West Memphis, which earned the Central No. 4 seed through regular-season play in the 6A-East Conference.

Mount St. Mary went 10-4 through the conference season to earn the Central No. 2 seed. The Belles will also sit out the first round with a bye and will play the winner between Cabot and Southside.

Bryant, the No. 3 seed from the 7A-Central, will play West No. 6 seed Rogers Heritage Tuesday. Central No. 4 seed North Little Rock will face West No. 5 seed Fort Smith Northside.

SPORTS>>Lady Red Devils grab final spot in state bracket

Leader sportswriter

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils are state tournament bound for the fourth straight year.

Jacksonville edged out Little Rock Parkview for the final tournament seed from the 6A-East Conference. The Lady Red Devils earned the No. 6 seed out of the East, and will play Texarkana, the No. 3 seed out of the 6A-South Conference, at 6 p.m. Tuesday on Court 2 at host Benton High School.

The Lady Red Devils split with the Lady Patriots during the conference season and both teams finished 5-9, but Jacksonville had more points for the tiebreaker.

It is the first trip to the playoffs for coach Melissa Reeves since she led the Lady Devils to the tournament in 2007. She left the team for health reasons following the year and was replaced by Jacksonville alum Justine Rial, who took the Lady Red Devils to the state tournament both of her seasons.

Rial stepped down to focus on teaching and work on her masters degree, clearing the way for Reeves’ return.

“We’re very proud, and very excited,” Reeves said. “We have a lot of juniors and sophomores on our team, so it also speaks well to our future. Hopefully, we will do well on Tuesday.”

The Lady Red Devils opened 6A-East Conference play in early September with a home victory over upstart Searcy before losing their next five matches. They rebounded with a victory over West Memphis on Sept. 23 and swept matches the following week against Searcy and Little Rock Hall.

Jacksonville picked up its final conference victory two weeks ago against Parkview in a match that proved to be the deciding factor for the conference’s sixth seed.

Marion took the No. 1 seed out of the 6A-East with a 14-0 league mark. Jonesboro finished second at 12-2, with its only losses coming at the hands of Parkview.

Mountain Home ended up as the No. 3 seed, followed by Van Buren and Russellville, which earned its trip while competing in the 7A-Central Conference.

Marion will receive a first-round bye and will take on the winner of the match between South No. 4 seed Sheridan and East No. 5 seed Russellville on Wednesday at 4 p.m. Jonesboro is also exempt from first-round play, and will face the winner of the Texarkana-Jacksonville match. That will take place Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Mountain Home will play South No. 6 seed El Dorado.

In other first-round games, Van Buren will take on South No. 5 seed Little Rock Fair and Russellville will play South No. 4 seed Sheridan.

The tournament at Benton will wrap up on Thursday evening with two semifinal matches, while the 6A state championship will be decided at Bentonville High School on Saturday at 1 p.m.

SPORTS>>Panthers’ pass pops Hornets

By todd traub
Leader sports editor
A few players were hurting but Cabot was feeling no pain Friday night.

Cabot took a bruising, 21-9 victory over Bryant at Panther Stadium to move into a three-way tie for first place in the 7A/6A-Central.

“I told our kids, ‘Guys, it’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out game and you better be ready to play all four quarters,’ ” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “And boy I was just proud of the kids. They played hard and Bryant played hard.”

The Panthers finished the game without workhorse running back Spencer Smith, who sat out the second half with a shoulder injury, while four other players, including quarterback Zach Craig, had to be helped off at one point or another.

But Craig returned to deliver the game’s biggest play and at least temporarily shush those who say the Panthers don’t pass enough.

Cabot was clinging to a 14-9 lead and got a fourth-down stop when Zach Brown broke up Hayden Lessenberry’s pass to Dillon Winfrey in the end zone. The Panthers marched to the Hornets 44, then running back Jeremy Berry got behind the secondary and Craig found him for a 56-yard catch and run for the score that made it 21-9 with 2:53 left.

“Some of them kept coming back,” Malham said of the injuries. “Our quarterback limped off, he came back and did a heck of a job. Zach is getting better every game, making good decisions now. He threw a great pass there at the end.”

Malham said Bryant’s defense, loaded up to stop the Panthers’ Dead T, lost track of Berry out of the backfield.

“We work hard on our throwing game, I just like it when we move it on the ground,” Malham said. “We complete most of our handoffs.”

Bryant drove to Cabot’s 28, but its possession ended when Rod Quinn led a gang of Panthers in sacking Lessenberry, and Cabot took over to run out the clock before a jubilant crowd, most of whom were wearing pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Cabot (6-2, 4-1) led 7-3 at halftime, then took the second-half kickoff and drove 66 yards in 12 plays, scoring on Andre Ausejo’s 19-yard run. With Smith out, Ausejo got the bulk of the second-half carries and finished with a team-high 73 yards.

Bryant (6-2, 4-1) wasted no time, driving from its 17 and scoring on Lessenberry’s one-yard run set up by a sliding catch by Nicholas Sawyer on a 30-yard pass play. But Cabot’s Riley Hawkins blocked the extra-point attempt to leave it at 14-9 with 3:48 left in the third quarter.

Cabot moved into a share of first with Bryant and either Conway or Van Buren, who were playing each other Friday. Conway beat Cabot in the conference opener but Bryant beat Conway.

“Right now we’re in a three-way tie for first but that’s better than being two games behind,” Malham said.

Logan Spry got position on receiver Tanner Tolbert and out jumped him in the end zone for an interception to end Bryant’s first possession with 8:18 left in the first quarter.

The Panthers held the ball for the remainder of the period on a 22-play drive that ended with Craig’s one-yard quarterback keeper for the 7-0 lead with 10:54 to go in the half.

Friday, October 22, 2010

EDITORIAL >>Crawford vs. Causey

Rick Crawford greatly simplified the race for United States representative in the First District. He made it about truthfulness, but it was not to his advantage.

Crawford, a radio announcer and former rodeo clown with a golden voice, picked the perfect time to run for Congress. Even in Democratic east Arkansas people are mad, and right now they hold Democrats responsible because they happen to be in charge. Rep. Marion Berry, in poor health and tired, did not run again and his young administrative assistant, Chad Causey, had to fight his way through a bitter primary to get the nomination.

A newspaper turned up an embarrassing saga in Crawford’s life. He once filed for bankruptcy and the government relieved him of his debts. It was nothing to be ashamed of, but it made him sound hypocritical because he had been denouncing the government’s help for freeloaders. But Crawford went too far. He proclaimed that he had repaid all the debts after all.

It wasn’t true. When a newspaper reporter began inquiring this summer with Crawford’s creditors, he did finally pay up. He would not give a hospital in Missouri a release to say whether he had just paid the debt. A hospital spokesman said all that she was allowed to say was that it was now paid. Crawford said he would not answer any more questions about the bankruptcy.

The fudging did not end. Earlier this month, after a Causey television commercial accused him of favoring the diversion of Social Security taxes into private investment, Crawford said he had not favored private accounts.

“No, never,” he declared.

But he had. Crawford had signed a pledge for conservative radio host Laura Ingraham to vote to allow younger workers to opt out of Social Security if he is elected to Congress.

An Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter also found a video on You Tube in which Crawford told Republicans in Lonoke County in March that he favored letting people his age (44) and younger stop paying Social Security taxes and instead invest the money in stocks and bonds, a plan favored by the investment-banking industry.

Crawford said oddly that it would protect Social Security benefits. The loss of Social Security taxes would mean the government would have to reduce pensions. Shutting down the revenue stream destroys any insurance system.

When the Democrat-Gazette confronted Crawford with his conflicting statements, he refused to say where he stood on the partial privatization of Social Security. The paper said Crawford ducked the question four times, finally answering with a terse “No” when he was asked whether he wanted to disclose where he stood on the issue.

A campaign spokesman later sent an email saying what Crawford refused to say himself: He favors giving people the option of setting up private investment accounts instead of paying Social Security taxes.

The opt-out plan would wreck Social Security, or at least force a reduction in the pensions of current Social Security participants, but it is a legitimate philosophical position, one advocated by some conservative think tanks and lobbies. 

No voter should expect a congressional candidate to take his or her side on every issue, even one so vital as Social Security, and he may make allowance for a politician to make a mistake or change his mind, even during the course of one campaign.

But there should be no tolerance for shading the truth. Even in politics, lying ought to be a deal breaker.

We recommend voting for Chad Causey.

TOP STORY > >Our error given wide circulation

Leader executive editor

We’ve received lots of calls, comments and complaints over an error in Wednesday’s paper about a Christmas program in Cabot.

Two lines were unfortunately combined to make it appear that we’ve already announced the winner of the Cabot mayoral race.

The two lines in the Christmas program at city hall on Dec. 3-4 were supposed to read:

“Welcoming by incoming mayor

“Bill Cypert sings.”

The two lines somehow turned into one sentence and read: “Wel-coming and singing by incoming mayor Bill Cypert.”


Cypert is a mayoral candidate, along with former Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh and Alderman Eddie Cook, but unless you have a crystal ball, we have no idea who will win that race Nov. 2.

We didn’t mean to project the winner. We regret the error and want to thank all those careful readers who alerted us to the mistake.

Apologies to all concerned, including the Cabot Chamber of Commerce, which worked hard to get the word out.

The corrected program ap-pears in the box on this page, and we may just run it till the event takes place.

In this business, we make mistakes every day. Last Sunday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette declared Stubby the incumbent. Ouch again.

As if to prove the adage that no good deed goes unpunished — our reporter Joan McCoy wanted to write the story well before Christmas — it’s too bad the story created so much discord since the program celebrates the spirt of the holiday.

We received so many calls, it reminded us of the old newspaper slogan, “In Philadelphia, everybody reads the Bulletin.”

It seems like everyone reads The Leader in Cabot and Lonoke County. Thank you very much. So when we make a mistake, we hear from almost everyone.

Some callers were friendly, some hostile and some in between. Some of you came by the office and commiserated with us.

We were all stressed out over the mistake. Those of you who were more understanding, thank you for not roughing us up too much.

Then there was the fellow with a criminal past who posted some ugly remarks on Facebook. He is running for countywide office.

That didn’t surprise us. But most readers were cordial, so  here’s a modest proposal:

How about if Cook, Cypert and Stumbaugh, the three mayoral candidates, all sing together during the program?

A little harmony goes a long way, and wouldn’t that make for a merry Christmas?