Photos by Kevin Nagle
In just the first half, Lawson Speer rushed for 187 yards and three touchdowns on only eight carries as the Bryant Blue Hornets seventh grade team of Bethel Middle School cruised to a 20-0 halftime lead on the way to a season-opening 26-8 victory over the Little Rock Henderson Hawks Tuesday night at Bryant Stadium.
The Hornets’ defense limited the Hawks to just 118 yards of total offense, just 5 yards in the first half.
In the second half, head coach Josh Akers got a bunch of players into the game and running back Fabian Torres broke a 34-yard touchdown run to increase the margin before Henderson scored late.
The Hawks picked up all five of their first downs in the second half. Still, it took until 2:30 was left in the game before running back Dejon Avent scored on a 28-yard burst. Taylen Walker added the two-point conversion.
“The seventh grade guys, we haven’t had as much time with them but, with the few plays we got in, those kids executed pretty well,” Akers stated. “They worked hard. They’re a pretty disciplined group, easy guys to coach.
The Bethel seventh grade team is scheduled to return to action against Little Rock Forest Heights on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
The Hornets scored on four of their six possessions against Henderson. The sixth possession ended the game.
It didn’t take long for them to get on the board. Quarterback Tyler Bates reeled off a 12-yard run on the first snap and a penalty was tacked on. On the next play, the swivel-hipped Speer laced his way through the defense on a 52-yard TD.
Bates tossed a pass to Carson Burnett for the two-point conversion.
Henderson went three-and-out and, though the Hornets drove from their own 33 to the Henderson 41, the drive ended when the Hawks’ Darius Woodus spoiled a fourth-and-1 run, dropping Speer for a loss.
Two plays into the Hornets’ possession, Speer got loose again on a 66-yard TD jaunt to make it 14-0.
The more futile Henderson plays led to a third Bethel touchdown drive. A 19-yard run by Torres helped negate a holding penalty on the previous snap. Moments later, the Hornets faced a third-and-10 at the Hawks’ 40. Speer bolted 20 yards for a first down and, on the next play, covered 20 more for the TD to make it 20-0 in the closing seconds of the half.
Henderson managed its initial first down on the opening possession of the second half. Kevin Walker’s 14-yard run did the trick. Later, Avent broke a 10-yarder. The Hawks reached the Bethel 36 but a procedure penalty, a fumbled snap and Matthew Oldham’s stop of Avent for a loss on fourth down, turned back the threat.
Torres covered the 41 yards to paydirt on three runs. He started the possession with a 19-yard jaunt and capped it with his 34-yard scoring jaunt with 8:32 left to play.
Henderson drove 70 yards in five plays to get on the board after that.