Hey, Farm Bureau: Here’s Your Guy

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - SPORTS WEEK - Mark Humphrey Game Jour­nal

Hooten’s re­cently an­nounced “watch lists” for 2018 Farm Bureau In­surance Awards, which will honor Arkansas’ top of­fen­sive player, de­fen­sive player and coach-of-the-year for each clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

They bet­ter send a pho­tog­ra­pher over to Lin­coln (8-2, 5-2, 4A-1) be­cause Wolves’ se­nior quar­ter­back Caleb Lloyd is on fire. Lloyd con­nected on 24-of-31 passes, a 77 per­cent com­ple­tion rate, for 386 yards and 4 touch­downs with no in­ter­cep­tions. He ran the ball 13 times for 87 yards and a trio of touch­downs to lead Lin­coln past Prairie Grove in a Fri­day night shootout won by the Wolves, 59-48.

Even his head coach, Don Har­ri­son, who has Lin­coln in the play­offs for the sec­ond time in four years, has been dream­ing about Lloyd.

“I told my­self last night if he could get four or five touch­downs I thought we’d win the game, not seven — that’s just crazy,” Har­ri­son said in the af­ter­math of Lin­coln’s first vic­tory over Prairie Grove since Novem­ber of 1994.

Lloyd will book­end his four-year var­sity foot­ball ca­reer at Lin­coln with ap­pear­ances in the play­offs, as a fresh­man start­ing tail­back in 2015; and this sea­son.

Har­ri­son, who in­stalled Lloyd as a starter as a fresh­man; then switched him to quar­ter­back for his ju­nior year put the right man at the helm.

Of­fen­sively Lin­coln ex­e­cuted at an ex­cep­tion­ally high level in up­stag­ing ri­val, Prairie Grove, which owned a 19-game win streak over the Wolves com­ing into Fri­day’s con­test. The Tigers sim­ply could not stop Lin­coln’s of­fense. Nor could they get a han­dle on Lloyd.

“He’s such a good player, and I know peo­ple ques­tioned it last year when I moved him to quar­ter­back … and he never played quar­ter­back be­fore in his life,” Har­ri­son said. “Now, when you look at it, I don’t think any­body’s ques­tion­ing it any­more.”

A hand­ful of plays il­lus­trated Lloyd’s abil­ity to im­pro­vise at cru­cial mo­ments on the way to 59 points Lin­coln put on the score­board. The first came late in the sec­ond quar­ter after Prairie Grove scored 21 unan­swered points, fol­low­ing a turnover on downs, fum­bled kick­off re­turn, and blocked punt.

Trail­ing 28-20 with 2:40 left in the first half, Lloyd guided the of­fense on a 6-play, 69-yard touch­down drive. He com­pleted passes of 11 and 12 yards to sopho­more slot re­ceiver Noe Avel­laneda. On sec­ond-and-10 with Prairie Grove de­fend­ers bear­ing down on him, Lloyd avoided a sack, re­versed field and came back to his right gain­ing 19 yards to the Tiger 27.

“I just got caught up in the mo­ment and didn’t want to let my team down,” Lloyd said. “I knew I had al­ready went too far into the back­field and it would have been tough to get out of that sit­u­a­tion so I put team on my mind, put them on my back, got out of it, things worked out.”

On the next play he tossed a touch­down pass to Ster­ling Mor­phis, then ran in the 2-point con­ver­sion to tie the game, at 28-all, 1:08 after Lin­coln got the ball.

The scram­ble was a huge play, keep­ing the drive alive and staunch­ing some of Prairie Grove’s mo­men­tum — al­though the Tigers an­swered with a 5-play, 64-yard scor­ing march en­gi­neered by Lloyd’s coun­ter­part, Prairie Grove se­nior quar­ter­back Ethan Guen­ther. Jake Wat­son hauled in Guen­ther’s 37-yard touch­down pass and Cade Walker kicked the ex­tra­point push­ing Prairie Grove back in front, 35-28, with a mere 36.7 sec­onds show­ing on the sec­ond quar­ter clock.

The Tigers had left Lloyd too much time. He led the Wolves 67 yards in light­ing fash­ion, need­ing only three plays in­clud­ing passes of 21 yards to Daytin Davis and 30 to Avel­laneda, who caught a ball that had been tipped by a de­fen­sive back, and bolted down­field. Both re­ceivers got out-of-bounds

pre­cious sec­onds and al­low­ing Lin­coln to set up. Lloyd flipped a shovel pass to Cam Brown, who burst into the end zone from 16 yards out with 14.9 sec­onds to spare.

Prairie Grove blocked the ex­tra-point kick main­tain­ing a 35-34 edge at the half, but Lloyd made the deficit evap­o­rate quickly in the sec­ond half.

Both Lloyd (10-17, 153 yards, 2 touch­downs) and tail­back Cam Brown (13 car­ries, 105 yards) went over 100 yards of of­fense after play re­sumed in the third quar­ter. Brown would fin­ish with a mon­ster night gain­ing a to­tal 173 rush­ing yards on 21 car­ries and adding 42 yards on three re­cep­tions. Mor­phis racked 172 yards on 7 catches, four of which went for touch­downs. Avel­laneda added 8 catches for 121 yards; Daytin Davis had 3 for 29 and Levi Wright 3 for 22.

The man de­liv­er­ing the ball to each con­trib­u­tor at an op­por­tune mo­ment is Lloyd. Har­ri­son makes no bones about the value of his quar­ter­back run­ning the fast-paced, run-pass op­tion of­fense.

“That’s all Caleb Lloyd, and I hate to put it just on him; but, man, he’s the en­gine that pulls the train.” Har­ri­son said. “He does such a great job. He was on the money tonight … Caleb Lloyd, I think four throw­ing touch­downs and three rush­ing touch­downs, that’s just crazy, crazy, crazy. It couldn’t come at a big­ger time.” MARK HUMPHREY IS A SPORTS RE­PORTER FOR THE EN­TER­PRISE-LEADER.

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