Photos by Kevin Nagle
When, between the teams, there had been three offensive snaps and the Bryant White Hornets eighth grade football team of Bryant Middle School already held a 14-0 lead, it was apparent that the Little Rock Forest Heights Eagles were out-manned on Tuesday night.
Sure enough, everyone got to play for the Hornets before the night was over. They led 30-8 at the half on the way to a 36-16 victory that ran their record to 2-0.
As it turns out, the athletic numbers at Forest Heights are down after it became a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) school.
The Eagles’ lone scores came on kickoff returns by Jarmall Lovelace, one of 71 yards after Bryant White had built a 22-0 lead. The other went 72 yards and came at the start of the second half.
From scrimmage, the Eagles were held to a net of 59 yards and four first downs by the Bryant defense.
Offensively, the Hornets’ Ahmad Adams probably could’ve scored at will. On the first play of the game, he rumbled 51 yards for a touchdown. Moments later, an errant pitch by Forest Heights quarterback Deunte Moody left the ball on the ground for Adams to scoop up and run in 29 yards to make it 12-0.
Hornets quarterback Derrick Rose ran in the two-point conversion and, with the game just over two minutes old, it was 14-0.
Adams ran the ball just five times but finished with 167 yards. He had a 72-yard TD run called back due to a penalty but two plays later, sprinted 37 yards for a score that, with Rose’s pass to Braydan Lester for the conversion, made it 22-0.
Even with playing reserves the entire second half, Bryant White amassed 243 yards of offense on 23 snaps.
Head coach Brad Smotherman used the opportunity to work on some things.
“I wanted to work on some of our passing game stuff because we didn’t work on it a whole lot against Cabot,” he said, referencing the team’s 28-8 season-opening win on Sept. 10. “We ran the ball most of the time. Of course, if we can run it, we’re going to run it.
“They were about half seventh and half eighth (graders), so that’s why we didn’t just run Ahmad a hundred times,” he allowed. “We can do that and score but we don’t get any better. We wanted to get everybody in the mix, get everybody better, run our routes and try to play football. That was the most of it.
“And on defense, just wrap up and tackle which obviously we didn’t do great on,” the coach concluded. “But they had a couple of players that were pretty good. Other than that, we did what we were supposed to do.”
Following the first kickoff return by Lovelace, the Hornets drove for another score. Adams’ 34-yard run set it up. Rose completed a 6-yard pass to Gage Stark to get to the 1 and the quarterback kept to get into the end zone on the next play.
Rose threw to Stark for the two-point conversion that made it 30-8 with 1:46 left in the half.
Moody was 4 of 6 passing for 37 yards including a short throw to Keyland Harris right before the half. But any hopes of scoring in those final moments were foiled when the Eagles ran a reverse. Moody was clobbered by Bryant’s Hudson Trusty just after handing off to Lovelace. But the Hornets hemmed in Lovelace as he tried to skirt right end. He reversed field and there was Trusty waiting on him, dropping him for a 5-yard loss.
But Lovelace got loose on the second-half kickoff. Moody passed to Harris for the second two-point conversion connection and it was 30-16.
In turn, the Hornets, behind the running of Stark and tailback Jace Freeman, drove for a touchdown. They only had to cover 43 yards after Drake Findley made a strong return on the kickoff.
Freeman, who contributed runs of 14 and 11 yards, finished off the march with a 1-yard plunge. A run for two failed, making it 36-16 with 3:58 left in the third quarter.
Forest Heights managed to pick up a first down on its ensuing possession, reaching the Bryant 36. But a second-down play there was stopped for no gain by Luke Staton and Korbin Bailey. On third down, Bailey chased down Moody for a loss of 5. He sacked the Eagles QB again on fourth down and, with 6:44 left to play, the Hornets took over on downs at their own 44.
The Eagles forced a fourth down but the Hornets converted when Stark ripped 21 yards to the Forest Heights’ 39. A play later, Freeman slashed 11 yards.
From the 28, Stark got loose again and wove his way to the 10 only to be separated from the ball. Harris recovered the fumble for the Eagles with 3:47 left.
Moody followed up with a 13-yard scramble but, on the next play, Gabe King chased him down for a loss of 9. Three plays later, the game was over.
Bryant White goes from one Heights to another next week when they host Pulaski Heights on Tuesday, Sept. 22.