CABOT — Back on Sept. 4, when his team eked out a 12-7 win at home against the Cabot Red Panthers, Bryant Hornets freshman coach Kenny Horn looked ahead warily to a rematch at Cabot on Oct. 23.
Horn had struggled to find a season-opening game in 2014 so he agreed to play Cabot Red, a Central Arkansas Junior High Conference rival, in a non-conference opener since Panthers’ coach Lee Melder was having the same scheduling problem.
Horn had reason to be wary as it turned out because Cabot Red wound up handing his Hornets their first loss of the season, 14-7, on Thursday night.
Bryant retained at least a share of first place in the league at 7-1 overall and 6-1 versus the conference but it puts more pressure on the Hornets in their final two games at Conway White and at home against the rival Benton Panthers in the weeks to come.
The final score was on the board at halftime as Cabot Red snapped a 7-7 tie on a 2-yard touchdown run by Adam Flores with :20 left. Ty Cyr added the extra point.
Each team would get two possessions in the second half. Bryant went first, trying to pull back even. The Hornets drove to the Cabot Red 36 using a power offensive set that included defensive linemen James McClendon and Ray Davis at the guards with Bryce Thomas and Kobi Riffe, who usually manned those spots, lining up in the backfield with quarterback Michael Jones.
That arrangement had helped the Hornets march to their touchdown on their opening possession of the game, set up by a fumble recovery by linebacker Brooks Ellis.
When the third-quarter march reached the Panthers’ 36, the Hornets faced a third-and-4 in four-down territory but a procedure penalty pushed them back. Two incomplete passes followed and they turned it over on downs with 4:48 left in the third quarter.
Cabot Red bulled its way to the Bryant 19 behind the running of Will Jerry and Flores behind the tightly-packed offensive line as the Panthers’ ran the traditional Cabot dead-T. On a third-and-5 at the 19, a procedure penalty pushed the Panthers back as well and, two plays later, the Hornets took over on downs with 7:12 to play.
Fired up, Bryant appeared to be headed to a tying touchdown. The Hornets’ lone pass completing of the game, from Jones to Tristan Calhoun, got the possession off to a strong start. Diante Woodson, stymied much of the night by the Panthers, reeled off a 15-yard run and, a play later, Jones skirted left end for 21 to the Cabot Red 30.
Jones picked up 9 on the next play, coming up inches short of a first down. A second-down play was topped cold then — of all things — yet another procedure penalty turned a third-and-inches into a third-and-5-and-inches. Jones scrambled for 5 yards to get it back within inches for fourth down. He kept once more and appeared to get inside the 20 but the Hornets got a tough spot and a measurement showed them short.
Cabot Red took over with 3:47 left and proceeded to eat it all, keyed by a third-and-7 run by Jerry that went for 36 yards to the Bryant 40. Later, Jerry converted a fourth-and-1 with a 2-yard burst to the Hornets’ 29.
The Panthers took a knee on consecutive plays to run out the rest of the clock, though, on the first victory play, Cyr, at quarterback, actually dropped the snap. But he got back on it before the Hornets could get to it.
The Hornets’ scoring drive in the first quarter consisted of eight runs by Jones behind the “big meat” up front and in the backfield with him. He scored on a 1-yard sneak with 4:31 left in the first quarter. Luke Welch added the extra point.
In turn, the Hornets forced a three and out, giving themselves a chance to really put the pressure on the Panthers with an early two-score lead. But, after an 11-yard dash by Woodson, they had two lost-yardage plays including one on a third-and-5.
They punted back to Cabot Red. After the Panthers picked up a first down, they appeared to be right where the Hornets wanted them in a long-yardage situation, following a penalty. But, on the second-and-12, Jarry blasted through the congestion in the middle and raced 62 yards for a touchdown that, with Cyr’s extra point, tied the game at 7 with 5:52 left in the half.
Still, the Hornets had a chance to retain the upper hand, especially after Woodson returned the kickoff out to the 44. But the Hornets went backward from there. Antonio Fuller was hauled down for a loss then held to no gain. A procedure penalty cost them 5 so, on a third-and-19, Jones tried to pass only to have it broken up, forcing a Cameron Vail punt.
That set up Cabot’s go-ahead touchdown drive, a 52-yard march on eight plays that included a whopping three pass completions. On a third-and-7, Cyr and Jerry combined on a 22-yard completion. Later, facing a fourth-and-5 at the Bryant 22, Cyr tossed a 20-yard pass to tight end Dayonte Roberts (wearing a lineman’s number, 55). Flores scored what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown on the next play. Cyr added the extra point.
CABOT RED 14, BRYANT 7
Score by quarters
BRYANT 7 0 0 0 — 7
Cabot Red 0 14 0 0 — 14
BRYANT — Jones 1 run (Welch kick), 4:31
CABOT RED — Jerry 62 run (Cyr kick), 5:52
CABOT RED — Flores 2 run (Cyr kick), 0:20
Bryant Cabot Red
First downs 8 10
Rushes-yds 28-121 34-182
Passing 1-5-1 4-6-0
Passing yds 11 44
Punts-avg. 2-28.0 1-39.0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-1
Penalties-yds 4-20 5-21
Rushing: BRYANT, Jones 20-105, Woodson 6-20, Fuller 2-(-4); CABOT RED, Jerry 7-117, Flores 17-58, Swackhammer 4-9, Stinnett 2-4, Coats 1-0, Cyr 3-(-6).
Passing (C-A-I-Y): BRYANT, Jones 1-5-1-11; CABOT SOUTH, 4-6-0-44.
Receiving: BRYANT, Calhoun 1-11; CABOT SOUTH, Flores 2-2, Jerry 1-22, Roberts 1-20.