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Morrilton holds off rally by Alma

ALMA -- Morrilton Coach Cody McNabb joked with a fan after the game that his team just had to make the game interesting at Airedale Stadium.

Morrilton did just that, having more than a three-touchdown lead at halftime, but had to hold on against Alma for a 38-35 victory to snap a three-game losing streak.

"It felt like we started to grow up in this game," McNabb said. "I really like the way we bounced back. We were kind of on the ropes with league play. Coming to Alma and winning is huge because they are a good team."

Morrilton (3-3, 1-2 5A-West) got off to a slow start on offense but picked it up quickly after that to take a 28-6 lead heading into halftime.

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The Devil Dogs took the opening possession of the game then fumbled five plays later, and on their next drive was forced to a three-and-out.

Morrilton found much more success after the initial two drives, scoring four touchdowns on its last four possessions of the first half to take the big lead.

"This has been the storyline of our season so far," Alma Coach Doug Loughridge said. "We are scoring enough points, but we have to find a way to stop people. We got to step up. We'll get it figured out with a lot of season left."

Morrilton, after forcing a stop on defense, needed just five plays to add to its halftime lead. Sophomore quarterback Jacolby Criswell capped the drive with a 31-yard touchdown run to make it 35-6.

Alma (3-3, 2-1) got its offense going after that, scoring 21 consecutive points to cut the advantage to 35-27 with 10:19 left in the fourth quarter.

Senior quarterback Garrison Jensen and senior wide receiver Brayden Johnson led the Airedales in the come-from-behind attempt.

Jensen found Johnson on a 5-yard touchdown pass to start the third-quarter scoring, then Alma got back-to-back one-play drives. Jensen passed to Johnson for a touchdown pass that went for 98 yards, then Johnson had a touchdown pass of his own finding Peyton Canfield for a 38-yard score.

Morrilton added to its lead with a 22-yard field goal from Jesus Arias before Alma was able to cut the lead down to 38-35 with 5:09 left when Jensen found the end zone on a 6-yard run.

But the Devil Dogs were able to close out the game, forcing a fourth-down stop and then picking up the first down needed to run out the clock.

"It was a good way to finish," McNabb said said. "When it looked like Alma was gonna take over, we got our stops. And when everybody knows we need a first down, we got it."

Criswell led the way for Morrilton, finishing 14 of 20 passing for 154 yards with 2 touchdowns. He also ran for 207 yards on 20 carries with 2 touchdowns on the ground.

"He really played well," McNabb said. "It's so exciting for us. We've got a lot of kids that work hard. He is going to make a lot of plays for us. He made plays when we needed it most."

Jensen finished 9 of 23 passing for 223 yards including 2 touchdowns for Alma. He added 116 yards on the ground on 20 touches with 2 touchdowns.

Johnson finished with 5 catches for 173 yards with 2 touchdowns, all in the second half. He also had a touchdown throw of 38 yards.

"He is just good," Loughridge said of Johnson. "We just have to figure out how to get him open against mismatches. He can take it the house. He is a big dude and has showed his speed."

Sports on 10/07/2017

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