LITTLE ROCK — The Vilonia Eagles found a complementary chord to running back James Sax on Monday night and added a new instrument, the pass, in powering to a 42-14 victory over Sylvan Hills in their football opener in the First Security Kickoff Classic at War Memorial Stadium.
Quarterback Drew Knowles rushed for 143 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns while Sax rushed for 127 and one touchdown. Knowles, who earned MVP honors for the game, also connected with Mitchell Atkinson on a 55-yard touchdown.
Vilonia scored on six of meaningful possessions going into the fourth quarter.
"We’ve expecting big things from Drew this year," Vilonia coach Jim Stanley said. "But it also takes a line to block. But he did a good job in reading the option."
"All the credit goes to the offensive line," Knowles said. "The holes they opened were huge. I just had to run to space."
The Eagles rushed for 394 yards and completed the one pass for 55 yards. They didn’t punt until 55.4 remained in the game.
"We still made some silly mistakes, but it was a great honor to come here and play and win," Stanley said.
The Eagles scored on four straight possessions the first half in taking a 29-14 lead.
Vilonia, keyed by a 40-yard keeper by Knowles on an option, drove 75 yards in four plays on their first possession that took just 1:03. D.J. Crume scored from the 4.
The Bears ran right at the Eagles and used counters and misdirection to retaliate with a 73-yard, 11-play drive on their first possessions to draw with 7-6 after a missed extra point.
Sax carried three straight plays on a 43-yard drive, the last a 15-yard touchdown run, to put the Eagles up 14-6 with 4:18 left in the first quarter.
The only significant mistake the Eagles made the first half was fumbling away a punt.
After an exchange of punts, Vilonia took over on their 2 and drove 98 yards in nine plays with Knowles faking a handoff to Sax and keeping for 25 yards. James Gardner’s third of four extra points put Vilonia up 21-6 with 3:38 left in the second quarter.
Sylvan Hills unleashed tiny back Greg Atchinson in their power and misdirection on an 80-yard, 13-play drive to draw within 21-14 with 1:46 left in the half.
The Eagles got good field position on the kickoff, Trey Lewis scampered 15 yards for a touchdown on a double handoff as a would-be tackler ripped away part of his jersey to cap a 44-yard drive to give the Eagles a 29-14 cushion with 46 seconds left in the half. Lewis, who rushed for 57 yards, scored the PAT onj a double handoff.
"That was huge to go down and get a bigger lead at halftime," Stanley said.
"It was big for us to keep a cushion," Knowles said.
Knowles ran kept 19 yards for a touchdown to cap a 59-yard drive in the third quarter then passed 55 yards to Atkinson for another.
The Eagles host Wynne on Sept. 10.