JONESBORO — Pine Bluff ran out of time before Jonesboro ran out of field to defend.
The Zebras drove 46 yards in the final 88 seconds of Friday night’s game at Cooksey-Johns Field. Pine Bluff could not stop the clock after a pass completion to the Jonesboro 24-yard line, however, and time expired as the Hurricane held on for a 34-33 homecoming victory.
The frantic finish followed a fumble the Hurricane (3-2, 2-0 conference) lost at the Zebras’ 30-yard line.
“It’s one of those odd feelings as a coach. You get one first down and you think all we have to do is get them to use their final timeout and we can run the clock out, especially if we get another first down,” Jonesboro head coach Randy Coleman said. “You get a positive run and a positive gain, and then fumble. You go from feeling really good that it’s just about over to now you’re holding on for dear life to try to escape with a win.”
Big plays in the passing game helped the Hurricane escape the Zebras (1-3, 0-2).
Rykar Acebo completed 28-of-40 passes for 420 yards and five touchdowns in his second start at quarterback. Four different receivers caught touchdown passes.
Coleman said Pine Bluff’s interior defensive line play led to the Hurricane passing more.
‘They did a really good job of stopping the run game, so a lot of those short passes we were throwing were really, for me, just an extension of our run game,” Coleman said. “We ran it enough that we set up some play action that we hit them big early, especially the 90-yard pass to Will Barre’.
“It was just a good performance by Rykar. The offensive line did a good job and one thing about our receiving corps, there’s four guys who are weapons. You really have to play the whole field and Rykar does a good job of finding the open man.”
Barre’ finished with seven receptions for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Connor Clark had 10 receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown; Kavon Pointer caught seven passes for 88 yards and a touchdown; and Dawson Wagner had three receptions for 22 yards and a score.
Jonesboro struck first on Acebo’s 90-yard pass to Barre’. Acebo found Barre’ on a 30-yard touchdown pass later in the first quarter to give the Hurricane a 14-6 lead.
Acebo’s third touchdown pass, a 7-yard strike to Pointer, came in the second quarter as the Hurricane took a 21-19 halftime lead. Jonesboro took a 27-19 lead in the third quarter when Wagner caught Acebo’s 9-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-3.
Pine Bluff scored to pull within 27-25 with 7:19 left in the game, but the Zebras had a couple of two-point conversions wiped out by ineligible receiver penalties and ultimately failed on an 18-yard attempt.
Pine Bluff turned the ball over on downs at its own 21 with 4:25 remaining. Acebo rolled out on the next play and found Clark, who scored on a 21-yard touchdown pass. Tenison Roscoe’s extra point gave the Hurricane a nine-point lead, 34-25.
The Zebras drove for a touchdown and two-point conversion with 2:46 remaining, but their onside kick failed to cover 10 yards. Jonesboro picked up one first down before losing the fumble that set up Pine Bluff’s final possession.
Jack Cheatham intercepted two passes and John Paul Pickens made nine tackles for the Hurricane, which visits West Memphis next Friday.