The Sylvan Hills Bears had their work cut out for them.
Against a rival in Jacksonville, head coach Jim Withrow watched his Bears win a battle with the Red Devils 25-16 in a game that was much closer than the score indicated.
"We escaped," Withrow said. "That’s what it amounted to is we escaped."
Trouble hit early when Marlon Clemmons fumbled deep in his own territory giving the Devils a short field. Two plays after getting the ball on Sylvan Hills’ nine-yard line, Jacksonville had a 6-0 lead.
Quarterback Tra Doss answered. An eight-yard TD, the thirteenth play of the ensuing drive, pushed the Bears up 7-6.
From there it was back and forth. Jacksonville got a field goal, and then the Bears scored a touchdown to go up 15-9 thanks to a Clemmons 36-yard run to redeem his earlier fumble.
The Devils then got a TD to go up one point at 16-15.
That’s how the score stayed until late in the fourth when Phillip Wood’s field goal put the Bears up for good after a defensive stand and a tack-on TD.
The Bears racked up more than 300 yards on offense thanks to the running of Clemmons, Doss and Tyler Davis.
Up next is the team’s longest road trip of the season when the Bears travel to Helena-West Helena.
Withrow said the trip is the perfect trap for his Bears who are unbeaten in conference play.
"It’s two-hour bus ride," Withrow said. "You don’t know where you’re going to eat. It’s just one of those trips."
One thing the Bears will likely not feast on during the game is cupcake. The Cougars are a bit of an enigma.
"I think they have some guys back now," Withrow said, "and they are definitely playing better."
The road was unkind to Sylvan Hills last year, as the Bears didn’t win a road game until their matchup at McClellan late in the season. This season, the Bears’ have had success on the road outside of the Little Rock metro beating Vilonia, but lost big to Class 4A Newport.
The Bears’ schedule winds down with games against McClellan, North Pulaski and Pulaski Academy. A win on Friday would be huge for playoff seeding.