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September 19, 2018

Seniors carry Mount Ida past Jessieville

By Bob Wisener
This article was published September 9, 2018 at 4:00 a.m.

JESSIEVILLE -- Style points went out the window on a wet Don Phillips Field Friday night, conditions favoring a veteran team that pounds the football.

When not slowed by penalties, fumbles and mistakes in the kicking game, Mount Ida lived up to its billing as one of Arkansas Class 2A's elite squads. With 15 seniors on a 20-man roster, the visiting Lions won a 21-6 game that appeared closer on the field than on the scoreboard.

Although 2-0, Mount Ida "isn't where we need to be," said coach Mike White. "Too many turnovers and mental mistakes tonight. We've got to get a lot better."

Sluggish early in both halves, the Lions still dominated on the ground with 298 yards between seniors Jonathan Lagrange, Tyler Hamilton and Cade Jackson. The 207-pound Lagrange scored two touchdowns on a 22-for-128 night, his 15-yard burst and Tyler Pinedo's third extra point setting the final margin with 9:29 left.

Hamilton popped one for 26 yards and 7-0 with 7:45 before halftime. The 175-pound senior carried four times on the drive that made it 21-6, taking a late pitch from Jackson 15 yards and across midfield on third and seven.

Jackson, who has directed White's veer offense since third grade, kept for 71 yards. The 150-pound senior had a big fan on the other sideline: Jessieville coach and alumnus T.J. Burk, who like Jackson 10 years later quarterbacked his school to a state title (2006).

"He was on the chain gang at our junior-high game Thursday night," Burk said, "and I told him, 'I'm for you every game except when you play us."'

Class 3A Jessieville dropped to 1-1 but not before throwing a scare into the favored visitors. Freshman quarterback Carson Hair overcame any stage fright that might have attended his first varsity start at home, taking the hosts to a third-quarter touchdown that made it 14-6. Handling the ball on virtually every play on a soggy surface, Hair displayed maturity beyond his years for most of the game. To its credit, Mount Ida converted Hair's third-quarter fumble into an insurance touchdown and Gage Dyer collected an interception from the Mount Ida 16 that allowed the visitors to run out the clock.

Completing 12 of 22 for 128 yards, Hair got high marks from his coach, receiving a battlefield promotion after passing for 2,700 yards for a 7-2 team in eighth grade last year.

"The conditions weren't ideal by any means," Burk said, "but he made some plays tonight getting out of trouble that a senior quarterback might not have done."

Jessieville goes to Dierks (0-2) this week while Mount Ida plays its home opener against Magnet Cove (1-1). The Class 2A Lions have Oct. 12 circled on their calendar: a trip to Foreman, which avenged a regular-season defeat to Mount Ida in the state final last year at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium.

"We played a good football team tonight," Burk said. "I couldn't be prouder of my players."

Sports on 09/09/2018
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