When the Lonoke Jackrabbits need some big plays, its two senior leaders stepped up to the challenge Friday night at James B. Abraham Stadium.
Lonoke quarterback Kody Smith connected on a fourth-and-long pass with Black Mack for 20 yards with less than two minutes remaining as the Jackrabbits trailed Newport 32-31.
On the next play, Smith ran 33 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 1:23 left. He threw to Dylan Walker for the two-point conversion, giving his team a 39-32 victory over the Greyhounds.
“I knew it was important,” said Mack, who has committed to play football at Arkansas State. “I knew I had to make a play and I knew I could go up and get the ball.”
On the game-winning touchdown, Smith was riding running back Josh Coleman before deciding to keep the ball himself for the score.
“We ran that play about 20 times in the game and it finally broke,” Smith said. “The coaches kept saying run down hill. I finally broke it for a big gain.”
Newport turned the ball over on downs on its final possession before Lonoke (4-1, 2-0 4A-2) ran out the clock for the win.
“That was a heck of a ball game,” Lonoke coach Doug Bost said. “That’s a good football team [Newport] right there.”
Bost said he knew it would be a tough game because Newport was picked to finish second in the 4A-2 conference.
“Everybody knows how good they are,” he said. “For us to be able to beat them on homecoming night is special.”
Smith, who escorted homecoming queen Haylee Whitehurst earlier in the day, finished with 154 yards rushing on 29 carries. He completed 12 of 18 passes for 163 yards.
Mack caught 11 passes for 137 yards.
Lonoke took a 3-0 lead with 4:17 left in the first quarter on a 22-yard field goal by Jose Garcia.
Newport responded with a 98-yard touchdown pass from Gunnar Bullard to Kristen Crite with 3:32 left in the quarter. Walker blocked the extra point, leaving the score at 6-3.
The Jackrabbits took a 10-6 lead when Josh Coleman scored on a 1-yard run with 10:53 left in the first half. Garcia kicked his first of four extra points.
Newport reclaimed the lead at 14-10 when McCabe Cordell intercepted a Smith pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown with 7:21 left. The Greyhounds added the two-point conversion.
Lonoke took a 17-14 lead when Smith scored on an 11-yard run with 2:08 left. Newport would add another touchdown on a 1-yard run by Crite with 23 seconds left in the half. Newport led 20-17 at halftime.
Lonoke’s Ethan Holland returned a short kickoff 55 yards for a touchdown to start the second half, giving Lonoke a 24-20 lead. The Jackrabbits pushed the lead to 31-20 on a 54-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Mack with 5:21 left in the third.
Newport would not go away as Crite returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown, making the score 31-26.
The Greyhounds took a 32-31 lead on a 64-yard pass from Bullard to Garrett Smith with 9:59 left.
Lonoke finished with 341 yards in total offense. Newport had 430.
Bullard completed 9 of 24 passes for 249 yards. Carl Turner rushed for 78 yards on 13 carries.
Holland led Lonoke with 13 tackles. Walker, Cedric Cooney and Trey Bevis had seven each. Caleb Bailey had five tackles and an interception. Jay Pitts had five tackles. Coleman also had an interception.
Lonoke will play at Southside Batesville on Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.