BY MATT VINES, Journal Sports
JONESBORO – Short-handed Lakeview couldn’t find enough firepower Friday as an early lead did not hold up in a 28-7 loss at Jonesboro-Hodge.
A second-quarter touchdown run from Dillon Pikes handed the Gators a 7-6 edge on a 37-yard gallop that coach Brandon Helms called a “Houdini-like run.”
But Pikes and the Gators (4-5, 0-4 District 3-2A) couldn’t muster sustaining offensive drives as three-and-outs and turnovers puts Lakeview’s defense in bad positions.
Jonesboro-Hodge (3-6, 1-3) scored two touchdowns in the last four minutes of the first half to snatch a 20-7 edge that it didn’t relinquish.
“They hit a big screen pass to set up a touchdown, and then we threw a pick-six with 1:20 left in the half,” Helms said. “That was the biggest play in the game.”
Lakeview has lost four straight games to begin district play, all without a healthy CJ Jones at quarterback.
A banged-up Jones played sporadically throughout district play, but Lakeview’s offense has mustered just 13 points combined in the last three games – all losses of 20 points or more.
“The wear and tear of our district is showing on us,” Helms said. “We’re beat up, but we’re still fighting. We struggled to consistently move the ball, and we had too many three-and-outs.”
Helms lauded his defense’s effort, turning away the Tigers on multiple occasions in which Jonesboro-Hodge could have added to their advantage.
“I thought our kids did a good job defensively,” Helms said. “We had a lot of situations where we could have given in, and we made stops.”
J-Hodge ended its own three-game slide and breathed life back into its playoff hopes as the Tigers entered the game sitting at No. 31 in the Division IV Non-Select power ratings. According to GeauxPreps.com, Jonesboro-Hodge got a bump to No. 28, currently the last playoff spot in the new 28-team district.
Lakeview’s playoff hopes are all but dashed as they slipped from No. 28 to No. 31 in Division IV Non-Select with top-ranked Many waiting in Week 10.
The Gators are in the midst of a three-game road swing to end the season after opening with homestands against Winnfield (53-20 loss) and Red River (40-6).
Lakeview’s health can be easily detected in its offensive production. In Lakeview’s four wins, the Gators are averaging nearly 34 points per game. In their five losses – less than eight points per game.
Still the Gators’ four wins are more than the past two seasons combined (three), a sign the program is moving in the right direction.
The next step is ending a district losing streak that has climbed to 10 straight games dating back to 2019.
CREDIT: Kevin Shannahan/Journal Sports