|Lonoke's Anthony Parks makes a cut during the Jackrabbits' win over Southside Batesville. (Photo by Mark Buffalo)|
By Mark Buffalo
LONOKE — As Lou Brown said in the movie Major League, “It’s starting to come together.” Well that can be said for the Lonoke Jackrabbits football team.
A week after beating a team for their first time with a winning record in several seasons, Lonoke followed it up with an even bigger surprise — shocking the defending 4A-2 conference champions.
Lonoke beat Southside Batesville 27-23 on Friday night to improve to 3-3 on the season and 2-1 in league play. The Jackrabbits had to hold on for dear life after leading 27-7 early in the fourth quarter.
“This is easily the biggest win,” third-year Lonoke coach Taggart Moore said. “This game had a little bit of everything in it. I was worried there at the end. But this is the second week in a row that these guys have come together in the end and overcome adversity.”
Lonoke had lost three in a row after beating Carlisle in the season opener. They beat Bald Knob 28-21 on Sept. 28.
“These guys are tough,” he said of his team. “It’s going to be a tough run to the playoffs.”
Southside took a 7-0 lead after a Lonoke fumble at the Southside 3. The Southerners drove 97 yards and scored on a 6-yard run by Caden Huskey early in the second quarter.
Lonoke responded with a scoring drive of its own, capped by a Davonta Adams 6-yard touchdown run with 8:09 left in the first half. Nick Tate added the extra point.
Lonoke’s Dalton Smith intercepted a Koby Rich pass and returned deep. A penalty on the return set Lonoke up at the Southside 7. Two plays later, Lonoke quarterback Braidon Bryant scored on a two-yard run with 5:04 left in the first half. Tate’s extra point made the score 14-7.
Lonoke pushed its lead to 20-7 on a 42-yard run by Anthony Parks with 1:20 left in the third quarter. The extra point was blocked.
On the next Southside possession, Parks intercepted a tipped pass, setting up Lonoke at the Southside 40. Bryant then scored on a 40-yard run with 11:48 left in the game, making the score 27-7.
Southside then did its best to get back into the game.
The Southerners cut the deficit to 27-14 on a two-yard run by Alex Palmer with 7:32 left.
Lonoke recovered the onside kick attempt but were forced to punt. But the punt was kicked out of bounds. On the next play, Rich threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Kilynn Dugger with 5:34 left to make the score 27-21.
Southside then recovered the onside kick and drove the ball to the Lonoke 7. On fourth down, Lonoke’s defense stopped Rich short of a first down.
The Jackrabbits were forced to take a safety, trying to end the game but when Bryant stepped out of the end zone, the clock read 0.2 seconds.
The Southerners were not able to return the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.
Moore said his defense made the plays when it needed to
“I never had a question about them,” he said. “Coach [Jack] Keith has them right. They play tough. Down there on fourth down, I knew those guys would not let them get that first down.”
Parks led the Jackrabbits with 139 yards rushing on 13 carries. Bryant had 110 yards on 10 carries Adams had 81 yards on 18 carries. The Jackrabbits finished with 322 yards in total offense.
“Anthony is tough,” Moore said of Parks. “He’s a stud. He’s a sophomore. Like I’ve said, these kids [sophomores] were my seventh-grade group. I’ve been waiting on that group.”
Southside was led by Brayden Duncan, who had 175 yards rushing on 22 carries. Rich completed 11 of 20 passes for 188 yards. Huskey caught five passes for 105 yards.
Jackson Ward led Lonoke with 18 tackles. Dalton and Dayton Smith had 14 tackles each. Terry Moore had nine. Brayden Coble, Josh Lawson and Antonio Earl had seven each.
Lonoke hosts Mills for homecoming this Friday.