Jacksonville picked up a big conference win Friday night at Jan Crow Stadium, taking down the Little Rock McClellan Crimson Lions 31-6.
The Red Devils got back on the right track in several areas, refocusing on the running game on offense, the defense coming up with big stops, and of course getting that first conference win.
"We knew we could run the ball better than what we’ve shown," said Jacksonville coach Rick Russell. "We’ve got a lot of good backs and waned to make the statement that we can run the football."
The Red Devils made that statement by rushing for over 200 yards, with all four touchdowns coming on the ground. Jacksonville made a different statement by starting the game with an onside kick, which they recovered for great position at the Lion 40-yard-line.
Three runs later - all by Lamont Gause - the Devils had a 6-0 lead after a one-yard touchdown.
Jacksonville forced a punt and had good field position again, but had the ensuing drive stall on the one-yard-line. Linebacker Justin Abbott recovered a fumble a few plays later, but Jacksonville turned the ball over on downs again.
Jacksonville’s next drive was more successful, as the Devils took a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter. Robert Knowlin had a 23-yard gain to help set up Gause for a two-yard score. Knowlin had a solid average, rushing for 41 yards on six carries. Gause had a big night, rushing15 times for 126 yards and three touchdowns.
The Red Devils got one more touchdown before halftime when Damon Thomas broke loose for a 17-yard touchdown. Knowlin scored the conversion as Jacksonville built a 21-0 lead going into the break.
Gause finished off his night early in the third quarter when he juked a defender and burst for a 30-yard touchdown run to give the Devils a 28-0 lead. McClellan was finally able to get on the board late in the third quarter with a short touchdown. Jacksonville set the final margin the fourth quarter when John Herrman nailed a 31-yard field goal.
Jacksonville makes the short trip to Sylvan Hills this week to take on the Bears. The Bears have found their offensive stride this season, averaging well over 30 points per game. Sylvan Hills beat Mills 37-36 last week. Turnovers could be the key this week, as both defenses could have long nights at Bill Blackwood Field.