JONESBORO — Alma was in position to pull an upset Friday night against Jonesboro, but the Hurricane made all the big plays down the stretch to advance in the Class 6A state football playoffs.
Jonesboro used a big fourth-down conversion on a fake punt late in the game to seal the outcome as the Hurricane pulled out a 32-27 victory at Cooksey-Johns Field.
After Jonesboro (9-2) sprinted out to a 29-7 lead in the third quarter, Alma scored twice early in the fourth quarter to pull to within 29-21. Jonesboro’s Will Brandt booted a 32-yard field goal to extend the lead to 32-21 with 3:38 left in the game, but Alma went down the field quickly and scored, cutting the lead to 32-27.
On the two-point attempt, Jonesboro linebackers Jodeci Booker and Aaron Fitts tackled Alma quarterback Evan Burris for a loss, keeping the lead at five points.
Jonesboro drove to its 45 on the ensuing possession, where it faced fourth-and-1 with a little over a minute left. The Hurricane called a timeout, and lined up in punt formation before the ball was snapped to blocking back Brian Mitchell, who bulled his way for a 3-yard gain.
Mitchell would get the next carry as well, carrying at least six tacklers for 10 yards before being taken down for a 12-yard gain. Jonesboro quarterback Carson Coats took a knee to run out the final seconds on the clock and send the Hurricane into the state semifinals against Pine Bluff.
Burris was 16-for-30 for 274 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, and also added a rushing touchdown. Tyler Mlaker had touchdown catches of 17 and 48 yards for the Airedales (6-6), while Heath Friddle had an 8-yard touchdown reception.
Coats was 13-for-22 for 195 yards and a touchdown, while also picking up 70 yards on 14 carries. Booker returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown. Mitchell finished with 111 yards rushing and a touchdown.