Quarterback Brandon Warner tossed a pair of touchdown passes as the Bryant Blue Hornets eighth grade football team of Bethel Middle School forged a season-opening victory over Little Rock Henderson Hawks eighth grade team, 14-12, at Bryant Stadium.
The Hornets scored late in the first half and early in the second. A two-point run by Brendan Young after the first touchdown provided the difference, though they were about to take it in again late in the game before losing a fumble at the Henderson 1.[more]
“Overall I was very impressed with our defense,” stated Hornets coach Donaven Sims. “With the exception of (Henderson’s) two trick plays, they had less than 75 yards of total offense.
“Offensively we struggled with turnovers,” he continued. “We had four total, three inside our 30 and, when that happens, it is hard to establish any type of rhythm. Every time, we would establish a drive we would turn the ball over.
“This is the first time we have really seen live action, live tackling, true speed, and it showed,” Sims related. “We will watch the film to show the kids our strengths and weaknesses, and then make the adjustments for next week.”
Bryant Blue visits Hot Springs on Thursday, Sept. 9.
Warner wound up 9 of 13 passing for 110 yards, an interception and the two scoring strikes, one to Jason Hastings and the other to Hunter Fugitt.
Brushawn Hunter led the Hornets on the ground with 70 yards on just six carries.
“About half of those yards came after contact,” Sims said of Hunter’s performance.
The Hawks put the first points on the board, taking advantage of one of those Bryant turnovers to set up a short scoring drive. A halfback pass set up the TD, getting them to the 1.
But a try for two failed.
“We pretty much got what we expected out of Henderson,” Sims mentioned. “We knew they would be big, fast, and athletic. They presented us some problems early in the game with their size. Their interior defensive line was massive and we where unable to establish the ground game early on.”
But in the second quarter, the Hornets went to the air to loosen things up. Warner completed passes to Fugitt and Hastings and, with about three minutes left in the half, Warner found Fugitt again from 8 yards out to tie it. Young’s two-point run put the Hornets ahead to stay.
“We were able to get some momentum from those two big pass plays to Fugitt and Hastings,” Sims acknowledged.
The Hornets started the second half with a surprise onside kick.
“It was a very nice kick by Alex Denker and we recovered,” Sims said.
Warner found Hastings down the sideline for 30 yards to set up a 1-yard touchdown connection between the two that made it 14-6.
Henderson countered with a long run for a score to make it 14-12 before the third quarter was over but the Hornets foiled the two-point conversion to preserve the lead.
“We basically went back and forth after that for the remainder of the game,” Sims said.
Fugitt finished with four receptions for 51 yards. Hastings also caught four throws for 49 yards. Ryan Hill had a 10-yard reception.
Young was the workhorse on the ground with 15 carries for 64 yards. Warner kept for 16 yards on four tries and Fugitt contributed an 11-yard run along the way.
“The main aspect of this game that I would like to convey is that the kids competed for four quarters and that's all we can ask for as coaches,” Sims commented. “We had a lot of bad things happen throughout the game, yet the boys found a way to win, and that is a tribute to their character.”