Photographs by Special to the Democrat-Gazette/JIMMY JONES
Little Rock McClellan running back Jeremiah Aikins (24) rushed for 110 yards on 13 carries and scored 2 touchdowns in the Lions’ 34-14 victory over Sylvan Hills on Friday night.
Saturday, September 8, 2018
Little Rock McClellan will have to wait at least three more weeks before it plays its first home game in nearly two years, but on Friday night, the Lions looked plenty cozy at Scott Field.
Senior running back Derrick Lloyd ran 14 times for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns to power McClellan to a 34-14 victory over Sylvan Hills.
Junior running back Jeremiah Aikins added 110 yards rushing on 13 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns for the Lions, who were playing for the first time since beating Dollarway 55-0 on Aug. 20. McClellan Coach Maurice Moody admitted the long layoff might have affected his team's play, particularly early, but the overall goal was accomplished.
"We'll take a win any way we can get it, but man I'm not happy at all," he said. "I thought playing the zero week would give us an opportunity to have a couple of weeks to get better and work on our craft and who we are as a ballclub. But it backfired.
"Not playing in that many days, we were a little lackadaisical at times, we were a little unfocused at times. We didn't put forth the type of effort you need to be a state championship team, and that's what we've got to clean up."
The game, which was delayed for 43 minutes because of lightning in the vicinity, was moved to Little Rock Hall's newly renovated stadium after heavy rains entered the central Arkansas area Thursday. McClellan (2-0) didn't play a home game last season because the field at Crimson Lion Stadium was deemed unplayable. The surface did undergo a complete overhaul during the summer and was expected to be ready well before the season began, but the Little Rock School District decided to switch locations because of concerns about the possible damage extensive rainfall could cause.
The Lions, however, made the most out of the change, dispatching their former 5A-Central rivals.
Sylvan Hills led 7-6 with 2:36 left in the second quarter when the game was delayed. Players and coaches were sent to their locker rooms, but once the game was resumed, McClellan seized control.
The Lions took an 8-7 lead with 29 seconds left in the half after the ball sailed through the hands of Bears' punter Tito Mendoza and out of the end zone. After a 5-minute halftime break, McClellan reeled off 20 consecutive points to pull away.
Junior quarterback Dionte Hutchinson was 10-of-18 passing for 104 yards and carried 15 times for 60 yards for Sylvan Hills (1-2), which struggled on offense a week after scoring just two points in a loss to Little Rock Catholic. Sophomore running back Shajuan Esteen also scored twice for the Bears.
McClellan went 50 yards in 8 plays on the opening drive, with Lloyd plunging in for a 2-yard score with 7:28 remaining in the first quarter. The Lions missed their 2-point conversion attempt and turned the ball over on downs at the Bears' 34 on their next possession before Sylvan Hills grabbed its only lead.
Hutchinson passed 17 yards to Esteen for a touchdown with 10:19 left in the second, but the Bears wouldn't score again until 7:14 remained in the game.
Lloyd scored on a 79-yard run on the Lions' first play of the third quarter and Aikins scored on runs of 37 and 12 yards in a six-minute span to push McClellan's lead to 28-7. Esteen added a 9-yard score to cut the Bears' deficit to 14 midway through the fourth quarter, but senior running back Xavion Morgan tacked on a 17-yard touchdown run for McClellan with 1:37 left.
"We've still got a lot to work on," Moody said. "We can't turn the ball over if we expect to get to where we want to go. Those are things we can control.
"It's not about who's in front of us. It's all about us and trying to get better every single week."
Sports on 09/08/2018
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