Jacksonville scored first, but couldn’t make it last in a 25-16 loss at Sylvan Hills.
“They’ve got some good backs that are hard to stop,” said Jacksonville coach Rick Russell. “But we played hard and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
Jacksonville took their first lead near the end of the first quarter after Titus O’Neal recovered a fumble at the Sylvan Hills nine-yard-line. Robert Knowlin scored on a short run to give the Red Devils a 6-0 lead.
Sylvan Hills answered with a long 13-play drive capped off by an eight-yard touchdown by Tra Doss.
The Red Devils were able to get the lead back before halftime thanks to a 45-yard field goal from Jesper Wellshaupt.
Jacksonville’s offense continued to bend but not break in the third quarter. Sylvan Hills started the second half with the ball, but came up empty when the 14th play was a 30-yard field goal that was hooked.
The Red Devils appeared to be on the right track on the next possession, getting a first on fourth down by drawing the defense offsides, then watching Lamont Gause pick up 17 yards. The drive went south after a pair of losses led to a punt being blocked. Two plays later, Sylvan Hills’ Marlon Clemmons finally broke loose for a 36-yard touchdown.
Sylvan Hills had been living on the long touchdown all season, averaging over 35 points. Jacksonville’s defense held that in check most of the night.
The Red Devils didn’t take long to retake the lead with Reggie Barnes back in at quarterback. Barnes hit Robert Harris for a 42-yard gain over the middle, then after three incompletions hit Harris again for 29 yards on fourth down. A three-yard sneak by Barnes gave the Devils a 16-15 lead after the conversion attempt failed with 10:18 left to play.
While they couldn’t break their normal long runs, the Bears were able to plow ahead for first downs. Sylvan Hills took over seven minutes on the ensuing possession before Jacksonville held tough in the red zone. Kicker Phillip Wood was good this time from 25 yards out, giving the Bears an 18-16 lead.
A pair of penalties and incompletions helped give the ball back to Sylvan Hills on the Jacksonville 19-yard-line. Doss scored two plays later as the Devil defense had to go for the strip instead of the tackle, setting the final margin.
“That was a much closer game than the final score,” said Russell. “We competed hard and Robert had some great catches in the fourth quarter, but it just didn’t go our way.”
Jacksonville will look to get back in the win column Friday night against their cross-town rivals North Pulaski.