El Dorado News

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December 16, 2017
El Dorado News Times
Terrance Armstard/News-Times Junction City's Jalen Davis sprints past Osceola's Ja'marion Veasley on his way to the end zone as teammate Jack Smith (51) follows the play.The Dragons beat the Seminoles 44-38 Friday in the 3A state semifinals in Junction City.

Terrance Armstard/News-Times Junction City's Jalen Davis sprints past Osceola's Ja'marion Veasley on his way to the end zone as teammate Jack Smith (51) follows the play.The Dragons beat the Seminoles 44-38 Friday in the 3A state semifinals in Junction City.

2A? 3A? Same Story

Dragons top Osceola to advance to finals

This article was published December 2, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.

By Jason Avery

News-Times Staff

JUNCTION CITY - Like two heavyweight fighters, Junction City and Osceola took turns trading blows with one another.

However, Keyvontae Haynes had two fourth-quarter interceptions in the red zone, and Hishmma Taylor’s 2-yard run with 6:29 left in regulation proved to be the game-winner, as the Dragons outlasted the Seminoles 44-38 in an epic 3A semifinal clash at David Carpenter Stadium on Friday night.

The wins sends the Dragons (13-0) into the state finals for the first time since 2014 when they won their third straight 2A title. This will be be their first appearance in the state finals as a 3A school.

Junction City will face Rivercrest, an 18-13 winner over McGehee, for the 3A state title next Friday in Little Rock.

After going 2-8 in 2016, the Seminoles (11-3) saw their outstanding turnaround season come to an end.

“It was a great effort all the way around,” said Junction City coach Steven Jones. “Once again, we found a way to win. The defense stepped up late in the fourth quarter and we were able to pound the ball in the fourth quarter. I think our conditioning paid off for us. We were able to get our pads lower than them and get out of there with the win.”

For a time, it looked like the Seminoles were going to finish off an impressive comeback.

Trailing 30-7 early in the second quarter, the visitors scored 31 unanswered points to take a 38-30 lead at the midway point of the third quarter.

Osceola’s defense then came up with a big play, as Rico Moore recovered a fumble to stop a Junction City drive in the red zone to preserve their lead.

But after scoring on each of their last five possessions, the Seminoles were forced to punt on the ensuing drive, and the Dragons went to work with Taylor and Shuvasceiaye Frazier paving the way.

Frazier, who was 3-of-4 passing for 89 yards with a touchdown and an interception along with 153 yards and two scores on 14 carries, picked up 16 yards to convert a third-and-5 to give the Dragons a first down at Osceola’s 49.

But after Frazier was sacked, Junction City was faced with a third-and-14 from the 35.

Although the Dragons attempted only four passes, they made them count in a big way, as Frazier faked to his left and dumped off a pass to Jalen Davis along the right sideline.

A senior, Davis made one defender miss before accelerating down the sideline for a 15-yard gain to the 20.

Taylor, who had 192 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries, ran for eight yards and Frazier scampered for 11 yards to give Junction City first-and-goal from the 1.

Then disaster nearly struck.

On first-and-goal, the Dragons fumbled the ball, but they were able to get it back.

Davis then ran for a yard before Frazier corralled a high snap and plowed his way into the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown run. Frazier then tied the game at 38-all with a successful run on the two-point conversion.

“He continues to make plays,” Jones said of Frazier. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to get him to take care of the football a little bit better next week. He did a great job in the fourth quarter and they just continue to fight and continue to battle.”

With 8:56 left in the game, the Seminoles got the ball at Junction City’s 41 after a 30-yard return by Derrell Brown Jr. on the kickoff.

D.J. Flie, who was 12-of-24 passing for 213 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions along with 99 yards rushing on 18 carries, made a big play by finding Trayveon Moore for a 9-yard gain to pick up a third-and-7 from the 38.

One play later, Flie fired a long pass down the left side into the end zone, but Haynes made a terrific play by outjumping the Osceola receiver to make a great catch and seal the first of his two interceptions.

With the ball back at the 20 and 7:13 left in the game, the Dragons set out to reclaim the lead.

It took them all of 44 seconds to do so.

After a 4-yard run by Taylor, Frazier blew through a hole in the middle of the line and raced 74 yards to Osceola’s 2.

On the next play, Taylor scored on a 2-yard run to make it 44-38, but as has been the case in all three of the Dragons’ playoff games, the game was headed towards a dramatic finish.

Starting at their 36, the Seminoles marched to Junction City’s 4, but on first-and-goal, Flie was stuffed for no gain.

A false start penalty moved Osceola back five yards, and Flie was sacked at the 15 on second down.

Now faced with third-and-goal from the 15, Flie tried to find a receiver in the middle of the field, but Haynes picked off the pass and raced 95 yards for a touchdown.

However, a penalty during the return took the points off the scoreboard, but with 2:40 left, the Dragons had the ball at their 25, looking to put away the Seminoles.

They did just that thanks to Taylor and their offensive line.

The senior picked up two first downs on consecutive carries of 17 and 13 yards.

Later faced with a second-and-8 from Osceola’s 39, Taylor ripped off a 10-yard run that allowed the Dragons to run out the clock.

“It’s three weeks in a row that we’ve played great football teams,” Jones said. “My hat’s off to Osceola. What a great season and turnaround. To be 2-8 and make it to the semifinals. They gave us everything they could give. We’re just grateful to come out with a victory.”

For a time, it looked the Dragons were going to run away from the Seminoles, taking a 30-7 lead early in the second quarter with 30 unanswered points of their own.

The Seminoles scored on the first possession of the game with Flie tossing a 25-yard touchdown pass to Brown with Ivan Leon’s extra point making it 7-0.

But from that point, Junction City dominated.

Despite running only 18 offensive plays in the first half, the Dragons scored 30 points and rolled up 218 yards of total offense, and they needed just 44 seconds to respond to the Seminoles’ opening salvo thanks to Davis.

On the same play that they would later pick up a critical first down on in the fourth quarter, Davis was able to take a pass from Frazier and race 65 yards down the right sideline for a score to make it 7-6.

Frazier then capped a four-play, 86-yard drive in just 64 seconds with a 1-yard run that was set up by Davis breaking several tackles on a terrific 72-yard run. Taylor’s two-point conversion gave the Dragons a 14-6 edge, and Junction City’s defense came up with the first of their three turnovers on the ensuing possession to pad their lead.

The Seminoles drove to Junction City’s 5, but on third-and-5 from the 6, Flie lofted a pass that Terrell Gibson picked off and returned 95 yards untouched for a touchdown that made it 22-7 after Taylor’s successful two-point conversion.

Junction City led by the same score after the opening period, but quickly extended their lead in the second period.

Frazier put the Dragons in business with a 40-yard punt return after momentarily bobbling the ball, and as was the case on their earlier drives, Junction City struck quickly, needing just two plays and 13 seconds on a 53-yard march.

Taylor broke free for a 47-yard run to Osceola’s 6, and Davis scored on the next play on a run over the left side that made it 30-7 with Taylor’s two-point conversion run.

But just when it seemed the Dragons were going to run away from the Seminoles, the visitors responded with a big comeback.

Osceola finished off a 65-yard drive with Flie scoring on a 6-yard run, and the Seminoles drew closer when Leon drilled a 40-yard field goal that was set up by an interception by Brown that was originally returned for a touchdown, but a penalty on the return negated the score.

Now trailing 30-17, the Seminoles’ defense forced a three-and-out, and the visitors further cut into the Dragons’ lead, needing just over two minutes on a 61-yard drive that was finished off by Taylen Gavin’s 1-yard run. Leon’s third extra point of the half made it 30-24.

Junction City led by the same score at intermission, but Osceola took their first lead by scoring on their first two drives of the third quarter.

Robert White, who had 170 yards on 20 carries, covered all 83 yards on the Seminoles’ first drive on consecutive carries with his second being a 46-yard touchdown run down the left sideline that gave Osceola their first lead at 31-30 when Leon’s extra point sailed through the uprights.

The Seminoles then got the ball right back on a fumble and promptly drove 71 yards with Brown scoring on a 12-yard run with Leon’s extra point making it 38-30 with 6:05 left in the third period before the Dragons rallied in the final stanza.

The offenses were in command all evening long, combining for 1,058 yards of total offense.

Osceola finished with 551 yards of total offense, while the Dragons finished with 498 yards.

Davis had 79 yards and a touchdown on his three carries along with 80 yards and a score on two catches for the Dragons.

Having survived a third straight nail-biting victory, Jones is ready to see if the Dragons can finish off their run.

“It’s awesome,” Jones said. “I’m so proud of our guys and the fight that they have and the effort that they give every Friday. It’s been great.”

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