FOUNTAIN LAKE — The Bryant Hornets won two of their five games at a 7-on-7 football competition at Fountain Lake on Saturday. The three losses were by a total of 8 points.
The Hornets will play a league 7-on-7 football competition at North Little Rock on July 20 with games against Augusta, Little Rock Central, North Little Rock and Morrilton to wrap up the summer. Fall practice begins Monday, Aug. 3.
Bryant opened with a 16-14 loss to Hot Springs Lakeside then dropped a 22-20 loss to Lake Hamilton when a last-second touchdown pass from Jimi Easterling to Caleb Thomas was waved off when it was ruled the snap came after the buzzer ending the game. After a 13-9 loss to Pulaski Academy, Bryant pounded the host team 37-7 then knocked Conway out of a championship final with a 20-14 win.[more]
"It just wasn't our day," noted Bryant offensive coordinator Dale Jones. "In all three of those games we lost, we had a lead."
Easterling threw eight touchdowns on the day but had four interceptions. Chris Rycraw, working toward adding a passing game to the Wildcat formation, threw a touchdown pass as well. Brandon Parish caught three touchdowns and Caleb Garrett, who sat out his sophomore year but has returned, grabbed three TD tosses. Thomas hauled in two and Nic Moore one. Linebacker Hunter Mayall and cornerback Logan Garland added to Bryant's point total with an interception apiece.
Rycraw, the Hornets' 1,500-yard rusher last year, has been reporting with the quarterbacks' morning workouts, Jones said. "To work on his mechanics, just so, if it got to that point and we wanted to do some Wildcat type of stuff like we did last year, we'd have that threat," he added. "Last year, there was probably very little chance he was throwing it. At least now, we've got the option where we can."
Saturday's games were 20 minutes long instead of the 25 or 30 usually played and, Jones indicated, that affected the Hornets.
"We didn't value every possession as well as we should have," he said. "If you don't get the ball first, you're already kind of behind the eight ball. If you get in a hole early, it's tough to come back.
"But we ended on a good note, knocking Conway out of the finals," Jones continued. "They were playing well all day long, so we beat a hot team there at the end."
As usual, the Hornets football team was without some players who are involved in Bryant baseball, but they were also without Tanner Tolbert, a standout in the secondary and deep threat as a receiver, and sophomore Sawyer Nichols, who has performed well in 7-on-7 this summer. Tolbert's family was out of town and Nichols is recovering from stretched rib cartilage. Chris Arnold, a senior receiver, is still recovering from hand surgery.
"The competition was tougher today too," Jones noted. "But it was good to go out there and compete with them. We had some guys play both ways and, with the heat, it was a test of our conditioning. The heat was pretty hard on us."