No surprises for Mustangs in good jamboree workout
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
But for a lucky ricochet on a tipped pass or a successful two-point conversion or two, the Bryant Junior High Mustangs would’ve gotten the best of both of their opponents in their annual jamboree scrimmage Tuesday night at Hornets Stadium.
The Mustangs played host to five Central Arkansas Junior High Conference rivals in the annual jamboree. Each team played two halves of football against separate opponents.
Searcy opened the event with a 14-0 win over Morrilton then Conway Blue downed Morrilton 13-8. Conway Blue then edged Searcy 13-7.
Bryant began its evening with a scrimmage against Conway White, coming up on the short end of a 14-12 score. Conway White then fell to Sheridan 14-7 before Bryant ended the event with an 8-0 decision over Sheridan.
There were few surprises for Bryant head coach Scott Neathery and his staff. Neathery’s review of his team’s play was mixed.
“I thought, certain aspects of the game we looked good but there’s certain things we need to work on,” he said. “But that’s what we expected coming in.
“I thought our quarterbacks did a good job,” he specified. “I was real pleased. That’s the first time they’ve faced real competition and I thought they did a good job. I thought B.J. (Wood) did a good job, I thought Brandon (Wooten) did a good job. I’m real pleased with their performance.”
Wood was the primary signal-caller for the Mustangs. He wound up completing 10 of 15 passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns for the night. Wooten added one completion in two attempts for 11 yards.
“I thought our receivers did a good job and our linemen did a good job pass blocking,” Neathery added. “We need to work on the run blocking a lot more. We’re going to have to be able to run the ball.”
For the night, the Mustangs accumulated 116 yards rushing on 27 plays. Josh Newell accounted for 54 yards on six carries while Jimmy Roach added 48 yards in nine tries.
“Defensively, we had spurts here and there,” Neathery continued. “We’ve got to get better in the secondary.
“But a lot of this stuff we knew coming in,” he added. “And we didn’t expect to come out and look perfect. The good thing about it is it was a scrimmage game, you can take what you did bad and what you did good and build from there.”
In the opening matchup, Bryant had the upper hand initially. The defense stuffed Conway White’s first series. In turn, with Wood completing his first three passes, the Mustang offense drove to the Conway 24. But, Wood was sacked for a loss of 8 and the Mustangs were unable to recover. They turned the ball over on downs at the 23.
But Josh White crashed in and dropped Conway’s Travelle Gault for a loss on the next play and, a play later, Dennis Jewell and Patrick McBride dumped Gault for a 7-yard loss and Bryant had the ball back.
This time, the Mustangs found paydirt, covering 40 yards in eight plays. They converted one third-down play — a third-and-3 at the 15 — with a 9-yard jaunt by Newell. Later, on a third-and-goal at the 4, Wood completed a pass to Andrew Norman for the score.
But a pass on the two-point conversion attempt failed and Bryant led 6-0.
In turn, the Mustang defense appeared to have Conway White bottled up in its own end. On a third-and-9 at the Conway 31, however, the Wampus Kittens’ quarterback Blake Edwards threw deep. The ball was well beyond the reach of the intended receiver Quincy Strickland and the only one with a chance to catch it was Bryant’s Jeff Carpenter. And he got a hand on it, but only to tip it into the air high enough that Strickland was able to adjust and gather it in, hardly breaking stride behind Carpenter. The result was a 69-yard touchdown play instead of what should’ve been, if not an interception, a fourth-and-9 situation.
Blake Ragan kicked the extra point and Conway led 7-6.
On the very next play, however, the Mustangs worked a sideline pass play. Wood found A.J. Nixon deep for 75-yard touchdown play.
Again, though, the Mustangs failed to convert on a two-point try leaving the score 12-7 with 4:37 left to play in the half.
Conway White responded by driving 70 yards in 10 plays. Again, just when it looked like the Mustangs had the Kittens shut down, they scored.
Conway had reached the 12 thanks to the running of Scott Coulter and an 18-yard pass completion from Edwards to Patrick Stacks. After a Bryant timeout, the Mustangs’ Jesse Nordman dropped Edwards for a 6-yard loss. On second down, John Hantz came up strong from the secondary to haul down Coulter on an option pitch for a loss of a yard. That set up third-and-17 at the 19. On the next play, however, Edwards found Ragan behind the Bryant defense for a touchdown with :25.6 left.
Ragan added the PAT and the Conway defense squelched Bryant’s last-ditch efforts in the waning moments.
In the second scrimmage against Sheridan, Bryant controlled things for the most part but only managed one score. The Mustang defense allowed just 27 yards, all on the ground, for Sheridan.
(It must be noted, however, that Sheridan had had both of its starting halfbacks injured in its first scrimmage against Conway White. Neither played against Bryant.)
The Mustangs’ touchdown was set up by Brandon St. Pierre’s interception at the Bryant 37 late in the first quarter. And the Mustangs showed some tough running on the drive. Roach picked up 12 yards on the first two plays then Newell took over. His 24-yard run converted a third-and-2 at the Sheridan 42. Later, his 6-yard burst on a third-and-5 at the 13 kept the drive alive. On the next play, Wood completed a pass to St. Pierre for the score.
Wood and St. Pierre combined for a two-point conversion pass, as well, making it 8-0 with 5:46 left to play.
Sheridan’s subsequent possession went three plays and out. Gabe Albeik’s sack of quarterback Nick Baker foiled a third-down play.
The teams exchanged possessions with Bryant getting a final try with 2:10 left. The Mustangs proceeded to eat up that time with Wooten converting a third-and-4 with an 11-yard pass to Andrew Davasher to keep things going.
The game ended with Bryant at the Sheridan 28.
The Mustangs open the season for real at Sylvan Hills on Thursday, Sept. 2.