By Rob Patrick
HOT SPRINGS — The Bryant Blue Hornets eighth grade team of Bethel Middle School scored early and late against the Hot Springs Trojans eighth grade team at Tommy Holt Memorial Field on Thursday night. In between, they shut out their hosts, limiting them to a net of just 65 yards of total offense.
The 15-0 win improved Bryant Blue to 2-0 on the season. The Hornets play at Benton on Thursday, Sept. 16.[more]
Brushawn Hunter rushed for 73 yards on 10 carries and the second touchdown for the Hornets who compiled 145 yards of total offense. Brenden Young picked up 39 yards on six rushes and fullback Hunter Fugitt gained 23 stripes on five totes including a 5-yard scoring blast.
Hunter got things off on the right track for Bryant Blue by breaking for 22 yards on the first play of the game. Young added a 10-yard run as the Bryant offensive line of Caleb McElyea, Nic Jenkins, Luke McConnell, Kyle Lovelace and Jimbo Seale ripped holes in the Trojans defense.
Quarterback Brandan Warner completed his first pass for 4 yards to Jason Hastings to reach the 15 and, after Young sliced for 10 more yards, Fugitt carried it in.
Young’s run for a two-point conversion made it 8-0.
Two Hot Springs plays later, Fugitt, playing defensive end, covered a Trojans’ fumble after the Hornets buried running back Deantre Campbell on a pitch sweep for a loss of 8.
A bad snap undermined the scoring opportunity for the Hornets who wound up punting the ball away.
Blue suffered three lost fumbles on offense but the defense would add an interception by Hunter to Fugitt’s early fumble recovery.
Hot Springs drove to the Bryant 30 where, on second down, Jenkins and Fugitt combined to stop quarterback Anthony Geoffigan after a yard. On third down, Drew Allen dropped Quntavious Haywood for a loss.
The Trojans went for it on fourth down at the Bryant 30 and Hastings brought down Geoffigan a yard short of the first.
Another fumble, however, cost the Hornets possession at their own 38 and Hot Springs made another bid to get on the scoreboard. But defensive plays by Tanner Neal then Fugitt and Jenkins again plus a holding penalty that pushed Hot Springs back from the Bryant 10 to the 25 proved too much for the Trojans to overcome. A desperation pass on third-and-25 was picked by Hunter to end the half.
At the break, Hot Springs had accumulated 61 yards of offense, meaning the Trojans netted just 4 yards in the second half.
They went three and out on their first two possessions and, with 1:55 left in the third quarter, the Hornets began a clinching touchdown march that used up all but the last 38 seconds of the game. The drive covered 89 yards in 16 plays. Along the way, they converted four third-down situations.
Initially, they faced a third-and-2 from their own 19 but Warner used a staggered count to get the Trojans to jump into the neutral zone for a first down by penalty.
Warner contributed a 12-yard run to get near midfield but, later, the Hornets faced a third-and-2 at the Hot Springs 48. Fugitt got the call on the dive and got just enough to keep the drive alive.
Moments later, with Neal in at fullback, Hunter converted a third-and-3 from the 38 with a 15-yard gallop.
The final third-down situation came from the Hot Springs 18 with just under two minutes to play. The Hornets needed 5 yards. Warner faked a handoff and found Fugitt in the flat out of the backfield for an 8-yard completion, the only pass of the drive.
For the game, Warner completed 4 of 5 passes for 20 yards.
A play later, Hunter bounced outside and sprinted into the end zone with :38 left to play. Alex Denker booted the extra point and the final score was on the board.
To that point, Hot Springs was actually in negative numbers for second-half offense but, on the last play of the game, Geoffigan scampered for 13 yards to get them on the plus side.