STUTTGART — The Lonoke Junior Jackrabbits have repeated as conference champions.
Lonoke rallied from a 6-0 halftime deficit to beat Stuttgart 12-6 last week to earn at least a share of the 4A-2 conference championship for the second consecutive season. The Junior Jackrabbits are 5-0 in league play and host Clinton tonight in a chance to win the conference title outright.
"It’s outstanding," Lonoke coach Darrick Lowery said. "We preached and preached before the game about how it was going to be extremely physical and the best-coached team we’ve played. It definitely played out like that."
The first half went quickly with the Junior Ricebirds scoring the only points following a short Lonoke punt.
Stuttgart drove 43 yards in seven plays with Armani Stewart scoring on a 13-yard run with 1:08 left in the first half. That score held up until the second half.
Lonoke got the ball to start the second half and drove 62 yards in five plays with quarterback Logan Dozier breaking away for a 60-yard touchdown run with 5:59 left in the third quarter, tying the game at 6-6.
Stuttgart turned the ball over on downs on its next possession with the Junior Jackrabbits taking over at their own 47.
Lonoke then drove the ball to the Stuttgart 8 on the last play of third quarter.
After moving the ball to the Stuttgart 2, Lonoke’s Isaac Toney was stopped for a 3-yard loss. On fourth down, Dozier found Casey Martin in the end zone for a touchdown with 5:59 left in the game. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the score at 12-6.
Stuttgart appeared to have a chance to score, moving the ball to the Lonoke 25. On fourth and 4, the Junior Ricebirds were stopped inches short of a first down.
From there, Lonoke moved the ball to the Stuttgart 49. The Junior Jackrabbits punted with Stuttgart getting the ball with 4 seconds left at its own 21. A trick pass play fell incomplete, giving Lonoke the victory.
Lonoke finished with 163 yards in total offense, including 158 yards passing. Dozier rushed for 76 yards on 6 carries. Toney had 48 yards on 17 carries. Michael Hodges had 31 yards on five carries.
Kirk Hughes led Stuttgart with 93 yards on 24 carries.
"I can’t say enough our offensive line adjusting in the second half," Lowery said. "They did a good job of putting the team on their backs and going to win a ball game."
The Junior Jackrabbits finished conference play 7-0 a year ago, winning the 4A-2 title. Lonoke’s clinched a least a share of the title.
"It says a lot about the kids for putting in the hard work that it takes to do what they needed to do to repeat," Lowery said. "It says a lot about their character. In the second half, it was all heart. That’s what we needed."