WM avoids the trap, downs Jacksonville
Big game looms for Blue Devils
WM School District JACKSONVILLE — The West Memphis Blue Devils took care of business here last Friday night, and now the blinders can come off.
West Memphis' mercyrule 54-7 victory over the Jacksonville Titans sets up the biggest game of the season, and head coach Billy Elmore's biggest as Blue Devil head coach, this Friday night against Pine Bluff.
Martavious Thomas rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Amaurius Stinnett accounted for three other touchdowns as the Blue Devils rolled to their fourth 6A-East Conference victory in five games.
Now it's time to focus on the Pine Bluff Zebras this Friday night at Hamilton-Shultz Field that will be for the lead in the conference race. Elmore didn't shy away from referring to the Jacksonville affair as a 'trap game,' and he was also ready to talk about Pine Bluff.
'This was a game that was dangerous for us. It was a trap game,' said Elmore. 'Now we can talk about (Pine Bluff). No question it's a big game. It gives us an opportunity to win the conference championship. There's no question, you can run from it, you can't hide from it. It's a big game.'
Pine Bluff and West Memphis each come into Friday night's contest with identical 6-2 overall records and 4-1 marks in league play. A Blue Devil win would give the team the inside track for their first conference championship since 2012.
Elmore's bunch put themselves in this position with steady play against Jacksonville. After falling behind 7-0 on a 45-yard touchdown pass from H.D. Martin to Jonathan Hall, but the visitors answered with a 54-point swing that knocked out the Titans (26, 1-4).
Getting the offense started was a beautifully timed slant pass from Stinnett to sure-handed Steven Stone for a 70-yard touchdown that tied the game.
'(Jacksonville's) linebackers actually did a good job of jumping routes and we knew that if we could bend it off behind that (Stone) would be open,' said Elmore of the TD pass.
Donte Perry then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kick giving the Blue Devils the ball immediately at the Jacksonville 14.
A Stinnett 13-yard gain was followed by his 1-yard touchdown with 2:15 to play in the first quarter, putting the Blue Devls ahead to stay.
Stinnett, who added a TD strike to Devonte Dean later in the second quarter, was efficient, completing 3 of 5 passes in the first half for 93 yards and also rushing for 39 yards.
Stone had two receptions for 77 yards in the first half as West Memphis held a healthy 28-7 bulge at intermission.
Although the Blue Devils couldn't finish a opening second-half drive for a touchdown, they didn't misfire the rest of the way.
'It kinda bothered me we didn't take the second-half kickoff into the end zone,' Elmore admitted. 'We got down there close and didn't execute well, but that's something we'll look at this week.'
Thomas' TD with 1:53 to play in the third quarter gave the Blue Devils a 347 lead and by that time Stinnett's night was over.
Junior back-up QB Michael Troxler finished the game and excelled, leading the Blue Devils to a 58-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a 30yard TD pass to Stone.
The Blue Devil defense scored for the second time in three weeks as Verndarius Hodges picked up a Martin fumble and ran 22 yards for a touchdown to make it 47-7.
The final score came from the legs of junior running back Quincy Marshall, who ran 15 yards for a TD with 2:58 to play in the game.
West Memphis finished with 381 yards of offense, with 251 of it coming on the ground.. Jacksonville was limited to only 182 yards of offense.
'We're ready for (this) week,' Elmore said. 'We think we're a pretty good football team when we play with intensity, and hopefully (this) week we'll have no trouble playing with intensity. It's a big game, and I think our kids are ready for it.'
By Billy Woods