It was a battle but the Lonoke Jackrabbits finished the regular season with a 45-38 win over Clinton on Friday night. With the victory, the Jackrabbits are 8-2 overall and finish second in the 4A-2 conference with a 6-1 record.
"It’s like I’ve been saying all year … they competed for four quarters," Lonoke coach Doug Bost said. "Late in the third quarter, we were down by as many as nine points. We got a big field goal from Jose (Garcia) and that got us to within six and then got a touchdown to go up 31-30. They finished the ball game. I’m real proud of them."
What Bost was referring to was Lonoke trailing late in the third quarter. After taking a 21-16 lead on a 3-yard run by Josh Coleman with 9:03 left in the third quarter, Lonoke fell behind 30-21 with 5:07 left in the their quarter.
Garcia kicked a field goal with 1:37 left in the quarter to make the score 30-24. After a Clinton punt, Lonoke regained the lead at 31-30 on a 20-yard screen pass from Kody Smith to Blake Mack with 9:53 left in the game.
After another Clinton punt, the Jackrabbits pushed their lead to 38-30 on a 53-yard run by Mack with 7:38 left in the game.
Clinton would not be finished, scoring a touchdown and a two-point conversion with 3:40 left to tie the game at 38-38.
Mack then returned the ensuing kickoff 30 yards to the 50-yard line. That eventually led to a 5-yard touchdown run by Smith with 58 seconds left. Garcia kicked the extra point to give his team a 45-38 lead.
Lonoke’s defense then held the Yellowjackets to get the win.
Lonoke led 7-0 on a 10-yard run by Smith with 3:22 left in the first quarter. Clinton tied it was 7-7 with 11:20 left in the first half.
Lonoke regained the lead at 14-7 on a 10-yard run by Smith. Clinton pulled to within one at 14-13 with 2:16 left. After a Smith interception, the Yellowjackets took a 16-14 lead on a 31-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.
Smith completed 4 of 9 passes for 46 yards. Coleman rushed for 223 yards on 24 carries. Smith had 143 yards on 24 carries. Mark Odom carried 2 times for 43 yards.
Mack caught 3 passes for 37 yards. Nick Watson caught one for nine yards.
Ethan Holland led Lonoke with 12 tackles. Chandler Elmore had 10. Mack finished with nine. Lance Dugger had seven.
Bost said he is proud of his team for what it did during the regular season.
"We had a few starters back … not a lot," he said. "We had a great offseason and it went into the summer, going to some team camps against some good teams. I really believe that the offseason and summer work got us prepared for the regular season."
Bost said the biggest different between last year and this year was his team competed for four quarters each game.
"We played full games," he said. "We might have had a lead before and we just didn’t come out and finish in the second half. These guys have been competing for four quarters and playing good football. Hopefully, they can keep on going."
The Jackrabbits host the Pocahontas Redskins in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs Friday night at James B. Abraham Stadium.
The Redskins are 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the 4A-3 conference. They were coached by former Carlisle coach Dave Williams, who died Tuesday night after missing the entire season while fighting liver cancer.
Bost said getting ready for Pocahontas starts with a good week of practice.
"They are a very disciplined team … they don’t do anything fancy," Bost said. "They have a couple of base formations. They are going to run it right at you. When they do pass it, they have about four pass plays. They are going to be disciplined."
Game time Friday night is 7 p.m.