CABOT — In the first quarter, Thursday’s season-opener for the Bryant White Hornets eighth grade team against the Cabot North Panthers eighth-graders seemed like a little early Christmas — an exchange of gifts.
First, it was Cabot as Bryant White’s Matthew Elder forced a fumble by Panthers quarterback Charlie Powell. Four plays later, after Bryant quarterback Gary Rideout completed a 14-yard pass to Mytorian Singleton, it was Cabot North recovering a Hornet fumble.
On the very next snap, Powell’s pass to Anthony Liddell was completed but Singleton stopped the play for a loss and forced the loose ball, which Jace Ham claimed for Bryant.
This time, however, the Hornets cashed in. Rideout converted a third-and-1 with a 13-yard run and, on the first play of the second quarter, he kept from 4 yards out for the game’s first score.
Though the exchanges continued — the teams combined for seven turnovers and Bryant White was plagued by low snaps — the Hornets’ offense produced enough, and the defense held enough to forge a 22-0 victory.
“The kids played hard and showed toughness,” said Hornets coach Russell Wortham. “We are going to celebrate the win and get back to work on our next game.”
That will be coming up on Thursday, Oct. 3, against Conway White at Little Rock Central’s Quigley-Cox Stadium.
Following the Hornets’ touchdown, Cabot North put together a drive that would’ve made inside the Bryant White 25 but a 22-yard run by Tori Clark was mostly negated by a holding penalty. From there, Powell was stuffed for a game on 2 by Hilarian Atilano then Singleton made back-to-back tackles for loss, forcing a fourth down with 1:11 left in the half. Powell’s pass was incomplete and, after another exchange of turnovers — Atilano recovered for the Hornets — the game went to the half with Bryant White up 6-0.
The Hornets received the second half kickoff and started their first series at the 41. Despite a bad snap, Martin scooped up the ball and slashed 59 yards for a score. His two-point conversion run made it 14-0.
Cabot North went three-and-out, but another Bryant fumble gave the Panthers another chance from their own 37. Completions of 16 and 14 yards from Powell to John Williams gave the Panthers some hope but, on a third-and-5 a Bryant’s 27, Gavis Lewis sacked Powell for a loss of 11.
After a delay penalty cost the Panthers further, Joshua Terry stopped a fourth-down scramble by Powell and the Hornets took over on downs with 1:05 left in the third quarter.
Bryant White drove 58 yards in 10 plays to ice the victory. Key plays included a 4-yard run by Martin on a third-and-two early in the drive. Later, Rideout converted a fourth-and-1 with a last-second lunge after being piled up at the line of scrimmage.
Rideout’s 15-yard pass to Aiden Deckleman moved the ball to the 20. Despite a rolling snap, Rideout scrambled to the 13. That’s where he found Singleton for the game-capping touchdown.
Martin ran in a two-point conversion and the final was on the board with 1:59 left.
Still, there was one more turnover. On the kickoff return, the ball came loose and Singleton pounced on it so the Hornets could drain the rest of the clock.