Photos by Kevin Nagle
CONWAY — Randy Thomas scored three touchdowns, two on quarterback keepers and the other on a 58-yard punt return, as the Bryant Blue Hornets eighth grade team of Bethel Middle School closed out the 2014 season unbeaten with a 28-8 win over the Conway White Wampus Cats Thursday.
The Hornets rolled up a 21-0 lead by halftime then answered the Conway White score in the third quarter with a clinching TD drive. They then ate up the final 5:29 of the game with a drove from their own 1 to the Conway White 33.
The win completes a 7-0 season, the first under head coach and former Hornet, Shane Clancy.
“The kids played hard and executed very well,” Clancy said. “They set a goal at the beginning of the year to be successful and they went out and prepared every day to be successful and that is what happened all year. I’m very proud of the kids and coaches.”
Thomas, Tyler O’Neal and Keethan Hudson combined for 222 yards rushing while the Wampus Cats could only muster 61 yards on the ground.
Conway White opened the game with a drive to the Bryant 49. A third-down run by the Cats’ Eddie White was stopped after a yard by Bethel’s Michael Chatman. So Conway went for it on fourth down and White was brought down short by O’Neal and Hudson.
The Hornets took over on downs and drove 55 yards in five plays. Hudson got the march started with an 11-yard run. Thomas followed with a long run in which he reversed the field and wound up with a 26-yard gain. Two plays later, he scampered into the end zone from the 18.
Martin Ramirez added the extra point to make it 7-0 with 2:48 left in the first quarter.
The Cats went three-and-out and punted the ball back to Bethel. A short kick gave the Hornets good field position at their own 43. O’Neal took a turn at running back and carried on eight of the nine plays in the drive. He started with a 14-yard burst. Later, he converted a third-down play with a 13-yard bolt.
The Hornets reached the 8 where Thomas rolled out and completed a pass to Sebastian Dunn to the 3. On a fourth-and-1 there, O’Neal barreled in behind a solid push by the offensive line.
Ramirez kicked it to 14-0 with 3:17 left in the half.
That proved to be enough time to add to the advantage. Conway White was unable to make a first down and punted back to the Hornets. Mark Turner’s kick was fielded by Thomas at the Bryant Blue 43 and he proceeded to lace his way through the coverage of a touchdown. This time, Chris Fuller added the PAT and it was 21-0 with 1:27 left in the half.
The Hornets got the ball to start the second half but were stopped on a fourth-and-1 run from their own 46. Conway White took over and, three plays later, faced a fourth-and-1 at the Bryant 37. Eddie White busted a 10-yard run to keep the drive alive and, on the next snap, Jovani Johnson tossed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Terry Clardy to get his team on the board.
The same duo combined a two-point conversion to make it 21-8 with 2:13 left in the third quarter.
O’Neal returned the subsequent kickoff 30 yards out to midfield and the Hornets needed just three plays to score an answering touchdown. O’Neal’s 23-yard run set up Thomas’ third touchdown, another 18-yard keeper.
Ramirez tacked on the PAT and the final score was on the board with :40.7 left in the third quarter.
Conway White threatened to counter with another touchdown. Thanks to an 18-yard pass from Cade White to Riley Morales then a 45-yard completion to Nick Richmond, the Cats had a first-and-10 at the Bryant Blue 11. Eddie White made a bid to score but as he fought at the 1-yard line, the ball came loose and the Hornets recovered.
With Hudson doing much of the running and the offensive line continuing its dominance, the Hornets put together their game-ending march, which was punctuated by “victory” plays as Thomas took a knee.
HORNETS 28, WAMPUS CATS 8
Score by quarter
Bryant Blue 7 14 7 0 — 28
Conway White 0 0 8 0 — 8
BRYANT BLUE — Thomas 18 run (Ramirez kick), 2:48
BRYANT BLUE — O’Neal 3 run (Ramirez kick), 3:17
BRYANT BLUE — Thomas 58 punt return (Fuller kick), 1:27
CONWAY WHITE — Clardy 27 pass from Johnson (Clardy pass from Johnson), 2:13
BRYANT BLUE — Thomas 18 run (Ramirez kick), 0:40.7
First downs 14 6
Rushes-yds 29-222 17-61
Passing 1-2-0 5-9-0
Passing yds 5 96
Punts-avg. 0-00.0 1-23.0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-yds 2-18 1-5
Rushing: BRYANT BLUE, O’Neal 11-83, Thomas 8-78, Hudson 10-61; CONWAY WHITE, E.White 16-63, C.White 1-(-2).
Passing (C-A-I-Y): BRYANT BLUE, Thomas 1-2-0-5; CONWAY WHITE, Johnson 2-5-0-34, C.White 3-4-0-62.
Receiving: BRYANT BLUE, Smith 1-5; CONWAY WHITE, Richmond 1-45, Clardy 1-27, Morales 1-18, McKenna 1-7, Henderson 1-(-1).