Blue Devils fly past Chickasaws
West Memphis’ secondary led the Blue Devils in a 20point win over Blytheville By Billy Woods WM School District BLYTHEVILLE — As solid as the West Memphis defense has been the last two years, the one vulnerable area has been the secondary. On Friday night, it came to the front.
Three Blue Devils intercepted four Blytheville passes in the team's 35-15 victory at Haley Field.
Last year at Hamilton-Shultz Field the Blue Devils held the Chicks to minus 16 yards on the ground, one of many nearperfect games the West Memphis defense played in 2017. But Blue Devil head coach Billy Elmore admitted that the team's pass defense was the area opposing teams attacked.
On Friday night, the Blue Devil secondary played the Blytheville receivers tight and broke on the ball in professional manner.
Elmore was proud of his team's four picks.
'Man, that was something wasn't it?' Elmore exclaimed. 'That's been an area the last few years that has haunted us. It was big for them to have the night they had.'
In winning their second straight to start the season, the Blue Devils rolled to a 35-0 lead to apply the mercy rule before Blytheville (1-1) scored two meaningless touchdowns in the waning minutes.
Meanwhile, not even a 30-minute weather delay could stop the visitors.
Immediately after Blue Devil junior quarterback Owens McConnell, who threw for 232 of his 258 yards in the first half, connected with senior Devin Olloway for a 43-yard touchdown pass with 9:37 left in the second quarter, referees waved both teams into their respective locker rooms after they spotted a bolt of lightning.
To that point, Elmore said he and his staff weren't too pleased with the offense's ground attack. But the 30minute weather delay allowed the coaches time to adjust.
'We had a conference with the offensive line,' said Elmore. 'After that, the running game got a lot better.'
While it took time for the ground game to get going, Blue Devil aerials could not have been stronger.
West Memphis took the opening kickoff and it took McConnell, who completed 14 of 22 passes for two touchdowns, just four plays, all of them passes, to get the Blue Devils into the end zone.
McConnell's fourth pass was a 21-yard touchdown to senior Mason Kearney, who had 3 receptions for 45 yards. McConnell hit on his first five passes of the night before things went sideways just briefly for West Memphis.
'That first drive of ours may have been too easy for us because it messed us up on the next couple of drives,' Elmore said, halfjokingly.
However, the offensive ship was righted midway through the second quarter with McConnell finding paydirt again when he connected with Olloway just before the delay.
Meanwhile, the Blue Devil defense ambushed the passes from Blytheville quarterback Jackson Howard.
Kendarious Moore, a junior linebacker, picked off two passes while Kordell Fenner and Tyquerious Barbee each had one.
Barbee's interception came in the end zone with 25 seconds to play before halftime.
It ensured a West Memphis 21-0 lead after Tyrique Thomas' 6-yard touchdown followed by a two-point conversion pass from McConnell to Phillips.
Blytheville had a chance to strike first on the second- half kickoff with Corey Weatherspoon's 54yard return and a facemask call against West Memphis thrown on top of it.
But senior defensive end Mark Robinson bolted into the backfield to sack Weatherspoon, who was lined up in the Wildcat formation, for an 11-yard loss.
It led to a change of possession and the Blue Devils cashed it in on Kelvin Love's 1-yard touchdown with 7:13 to play in the third quarter to make it 28-0.
Moore's second interception of the game led to the Blue Devils' final score of the night, a 1-yard touchdown by Latavian Thomas. 'I thought our defense played real well most of the night until we got up 35-0,' said Elmore. 'We knew we had the game won and I think we let up a little bit. It's a good win and we move on to Week 3, but we need to clean that up a little bit.'
The Blue Devils play their home opener this Friday night against Wynne. The Double Devil Feast will preced the game.
Fans can enjoy a $10 steak dinner in the West Memphis High School cafeteria from 5-6:30 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at the high school and at the WMSD's administrative office on South Avalon.