The Bryant Freshman Hornets completed a perfect 10-0 season, including a Central Arkansas Junior High Conference Championship on Tuesday with a 27-7 win over Benton. The Panthers finish their season 4-6 overall, 3-5 in CAJHC.
Benton kicked off to open the game and attempted an onside kick that Bryant’s Triston Kellum recovered. Following the recovery, it took the Hornets just one play to score as Cory Nichols raced 51 yards for the first of his three touchdowns. Stephen Fuller booted the extra point to give Bryant a 7-0 lead just 19 seconds into the game.
The Hornets increased the lead to 14-0 on the second play of the second quarter. Nichols finished a 60-yard touchdown drive on a 28-yard scamper.
Benton responded, though, with a 7-play, 52-yard drive that would reach the end zone, just the fifth touchdown allowed by the Bryant defense all season. The Panthers converted two third downs on the drive, including a 20-yard pass from Jack Woolbright to Abe Rose. Donovan Pearson picked up 24 yards rushing on the drive. On first-and-goal from the Hornet 8-yard line, Jamarius Morgan took a jet sweep eight yards for the score. Lucas Wilbur drilled the PAT to cut the Hornet lead to 14-7 before halftime.
Benton’s opening drive of the second half went three-and-out. Following a 32-yard punt by Pearson, the Hornets mounted a 10-play, 74-yard drive, converting twice on third down, to score and increase the lead to 21-7. Nichols reached pay dirt on an 11-yard run with 1:06 remaining in the third quarter.
Bryant’s final score came with 6:08 remaining in the game and, like their game opening touchdown drive, took just one play. Jaylon Brown blocked a Benton punt and the Hornets recovered at the Panther five-yard line before Martavian Earle scored. A botched snap led to Benton’s Walker Davis’ tackle-for-loss on the extra point to set the final score at 27-7.
Bryant outgained the Panthers in total offense 187 to 43. For Benton, Pearson rushed 13 times for 46 yards giving Pearson 902 yards rushing for the season to lead the Panthers. Woolbright completed 6 of 12 passes and finishes his season with 58 completions for 604 yards. Abe Rose caught three passes for 18 yards and concludes the season as Benton’s leading receiver with 28 catches for 308 yards.
Bryant’s Nichols led all ball carriers with 106 yards on 12 carries and finishes the season as Bryant’s leading rusher with 692 yards. Nichols also completed 2 of 4 passes for 43 yards. Braylon Brown caught one pass for 33 yards and finishes as Bryant’ leading receiver with 15 catches for 228 yards.
Defensively, Jake Jones (5 tackles, 2 sacks) and Pearson (5 tackles, 1 sack) led the Panthers. Bryant’s defense was led by Tyler Mosley (5 tackles, 2 sacks).
In the opener of Tuesday’s twinbill, the Bryant Blue 8th Grade got off to a fast start when Jaden Ashford returned the opening kickoff 66 yards for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.
The lead swelled to 12-0 on Bryant’s first snap after stopping Benton on fourth-and-seven at the Hornet 44-yard line. Hornet quarterback Gideon Motes completed a 56-yard touchdown pass to Cason Trickey.
Benton answered on their next possession in three plays when Jake Herbner completed a pass that Chris Barnard took 53 yards for the score to cut the Hornet lead in half at 12-6.
Bryant’s Reece Finney recovered an onside kick at the Panther 48-yard line. Six plays later, the Hornets were in the end zone again on another pass from Motes to Trickey, this time for 28 yards, and a 20-6 Bryant lead.
The Panthers final possession of the first half resulted in a Trickey interception of a Herbner pass.
Benton received the kickoff to open the second half and on their first snap from scrimmage, Barnard raced 57 yards for a touchdown. Colby Howard ran in the two-point conversion on a jet sweep to narrow the Hornet lead to 20-14.
Following the score, the Panthers again tried an onside kick that Bryant’s Hank Penfield recovered. Three plays later, the Hornets again found the end zone on a 14-yard run by Ashford. Motes and Trickey connected for the two-point conversion for a 28-14 Hornet lead.
Early in the fourth quarter, Bryant reached the Benton 12-yard line before Ethan Midkiff picked off a Motes pass. The Panthers were unable to do anything offensively and surrendered the ball back to Bryant at the 26-yard line. Two plays later, Motes scored on a 28-yard run. Jaime Perez booted the extra point for a 35-14 Hornet lead.
Benton’s final possession of the game ended with an interception when Aiden Hughes picked off a Hudson Chandler pass.
Barnard had a fine night rushing for the Panthers (11 carries, 109 yards). Herbner completed 5 of 11 passes for 78 yards.
For Bryant, Ashford also had a good game on the ground (8 carries, 101 yards). Motes completed 5 of 13 passes for 123 yards and rushed for 66 yards on seven carries. Trickey hauled in three passes for 90 yards.
The Benton 8th grade team concludes their season with a 5-4 record while Bryant Blue ends their season 6-2.