Hornets pump up the points vs. Dogs
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By ROB PATRICK
Anyone uncertain about the Bryant Hornets football teams’ ability to put up points in the absence of last year’s high-powered passing duo of Tadd Farmer and Tanner Francis had to have their doubts assuaged by Monday night’s display in the 1999 team’s dress rehearsal against the Morrilton Devil Dogs.
The Hornets scored on their first six possessions and, in three quarters, piled up 504 yards of offense and put 45 points on the scoreboard in a scrimmage that did not include kickoffs and full action on punts.
Junior running back Luke Brown rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries while junior receiver Matt Brown (no relation) hauled in 10 passes for 225 yards and three scores.
Both Bryant quarterbacks were impressive. Senior Derik McCoy connected on 12 of 19 passes with one interception for 201 yards and two touchdowns while junior Jeramie Wooten hit all four of his pass attempts for 131 yards and a TD.
All of that despite holding back a few things that they didn’t want the Conway scouts to see.
Bryant opens the season at Conway on Friday, Sept. 3.
“We’ve got a little bit of talent,” said Bryant coach Daryl Patton of his offense. “We’ve got some kids that can make some plays. We just want to get the football to those kids in good situations.
“I thought our offensive line blocked real well tonight,” he noted. “I thought our running backs and receivers blocked well for the most part. They had a couple of clipping penalties but, for the most part, blocked well allowing us to break some 10, 12 yard gains.”
Concerning the quarterbacks, Patton said, “Both played pretty well. Derik forced the ball on the interception. He overthrew a drag route but, for the most part, he put the ball where it had to be. I thought Jeramie threw the ball extremely well. That’s a pretty good situation.”
The Hornets defense, despite giving up 21 points to Morrilton, set up Bryant’s first three scores by forcing a pair of turnovers.
“We’re going to a new defense,” Patton reminded, “and I think we did some good things defensively. One area that needs work is our outside linebackers. We made some mistakes there but we’ve got it on film and we’re going to learn from it. I think we’ve got some good people there. It’s just a matter of learning and getting better.
“We’ve been preaching turnovers and they got us the football twice early,” Patton added. “And they stopped several drives and forced (Morrilton) to punt. We were rotating quite a few guys in there, too. On the drives (Morrilton) was able to put together we’d have one person miss an assignment here or there. That’s just inexperience, things we can work on and improve.”
The Hornets forced fumbles on two of the Dogs’ first three possessions. The first was recovered by senior defensive tackle Patrick Defoe at the Morrilton 24. Three plays later, the Hornets were forced to attempt a field goal which junior Nick Harbert drilled from 38 yards out.
Harbert and fellow kick Josh Ault were also a highlight for the Hornets. They alternated kicking extra points and neither misfired.
Morrilton’s second possession managed one first down before Bryant, led by defensive end Michael McClellan and linebacker Luke Brown, put the drive to a stop before it reached midfield.
After a punt, the Hornets marched 76 yards on 11 plays for the scrimmage’s first touchdown, Luke Brown’s first scoring run from a yard out. Along the way, the Hornets overcame a clipping penalty thanks in large part to a 19-yard pass from McCoy to sophomore Jonathan Jameson. Later, Jameson, on a wingback reverse, picked up 13 yards to set up Brown’s touchdown run.
The Hornets defense forced another fumble on the first play of Morrilton’s subsequent possession and, in two plays, the offense covered the 25 yards to another TD. McCoy passed 11 yards to Brandon Nichols then Matt White ran it in from 14 yards out.
The Devil Dogs switched quarterbacks at that point, going to senior Joey Scroggins. With the help of a couple of Bryant penalties, the Dogs marched to their first score. Scroggins, on an option keeper, bowled in from the 5.
But, it didn’t take long for Bryant to answer. With McCoy completing 4 of 5 passes along the way, the Hornets blitzed 70 yards in seven plays, overcoming a clipping penalty. Matt Brown burned the Morrilton secondary with an out-and-up move aided by a nice pump fake from McCoy. The resulting completion went 48 yards for the touchdown.
Just the play before, McCoy had connected with Matt Brown on an out pattern in front of the Morrilton cornerback.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter. Morrilton’s answering drive featured a 34-yard completion from Scroggins to tight end Charlie Mourot.
Bryant’s response came with Wooten at the helm. A 10-yard pass from Wooten to Michael Wallace and a 13-yard run by Nichols set up a 42-yard touchdown pass from Wooten to Matt Brown.
Ault’s PAT made it 31-14.
Late in the half, Wooten engineered another scoring drive, hitting Matt Brown for 23 yards on a fade route then connecting with Josh Farmer on a 56-yard play that featured some fine running by Farmer following the catch.
Luke Brown capped the drive with a 2-yard burst.
With time waning in the half, Morrilton appeared to be stopped when McClellan sacked Scroggins at the Dogs’ 44. But, on the next play, Lance Ross broke a sweep for 56 yards and a touchdown to make it 38-21 at the half.
Luke Brown opened the second half with a 33-yard bolt and the Hornets drove to the Morrilton 15. But the Dogs’ Matt Boyer intercepted a McCoy pass at the 5 as Bryant’s offense was thwarted for the first time in the scrimmage.
Morrilton was forced to punt after a drive to near midfield and, in turn, the Hornets put together the final scoring drive of the contest with McCoy at the helm. He completed 4 of 6 aerials on the drive to cover most of the yardage, starting with a 21-yard completion to White and ending with a 39-yard play (again, on the out-and-up) to Matt Brown with 2:52 left to play.
The Devil Dogs’ last-ditch effort was interrupted by an interception from Jameson, but an pass interference penalty negated the turnover. The Dogs drove to the Bryant 28 where, on what proved to be the last play, defensive end Aaron Mears sacked Scroggins for an 8-yard loss.
“Overall — and I’m greedy, I want it to be better but — I think overall we probably rated out a B-minus,” Patton stated afterwards. “We did some good things and there’s some things we can do better.
“I really liked our kicking game,” he emphasized.
The sophomore and junior varsity teams finished the scrimmage with a pair of 10-minute workouts. The lone score of the scrimmage came on the last play when Bryant’s Chance King intercepted a Morrilton pass and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown. Sophomore Matt Sullivan kicked the extra point.