LONOKE — For the 31st consecutive season, the Beebe Badgers and the Lonoke Jackrabbits have met in a game that has been dubbed he Battle of Highway 31, named for the state highway that connects the two cities that are 20 miles apart.
Friday night, the Badgers and Jackrabbits played in another classic in the series, as the Jackrabbits did just enough to hold on for the 28-21 win over Beebe at James Abraham Stadium in Lonoke.
Early on, it looked like Lonoke was going to run away with the game, as the Jackrabbits scored on their first two drives to take a 14-0 lead, thanks to the arm and legs of sophomore quarterback Bradon Allen.
However, the Badger defense stepped up in the second quarter and kept Lonoke off the board as the Jackrabbits would take a 14-0 lead into halftime. In the first half, Lonoke’s defense held Beebe to 94 yards of total offense.
However, the Beebe coaches had a surprise as the Badgers attempted and recovered an onside kick to begin the second half. That’s when the Beebe running game took over.
Thanks to junior quarterback Zack Grant’s 45 yards rushing in the second half and 67 total for the game, the Badgers were able to rally, especially in the fourth quarter.
Beebe tied the game at 14 with a 3-yard run by Grant with 9:29 to play.
However, the Jackrabbits were able to grab the momentum back on their next possession as Allen found wide receiver Landon Jones on a 61-yard touchdown pass down the Beebe sideline with 8:17 to play to reclaim the lead at 21-14.
Skyler Richardson then got into the act as he would scramble in from 15 yards out with 5:32 left in the game. The Jaffett Rodriguez PAT tied the game at 21.
Undoubtedly, the play of the game came with approximately 4 minutes left when Allen found Spencer Pepper down the Lonoke sideline on a pass that looked underthrown. Pepper came back to the football, got away from one Beebe defender before being tackled at the Badger 2 yard line.
Allen did find the end zone from 2 yards out with 3:25 to play in the game to put Lonoke up for good 28-21. Beebe did mount one last drive, however, the Badgers turned it over on downs near the Lonoke 35 yard line and the Jackrabbits were able to run out the clock.
The tell tale stat for the Badgers was despite Beebe going 0-11 on 3rd down, the Badgers converted four fourth downs in the second half. In addition to his 67 yards on 22 carries, Zack Grant was also 13-25 passing for 135 yards.
Junior running back Joseph Smith, who led Beebe in rushing the first two games, was held to 14 yards on 5 carries and a touchdown. Senior wide receiver Logan Stephens led the Badger receiving corp with 76 yards on 7 receptions. Beebe falls to 0-3 overall and are off next Friday night.
The Badgers will be in action on September 24 when Junction City comes to Wooten Field at Bro Erwin Stadium in Beebe for a non conference matchup.