By Rob Patrick
CABOT — Over the last eight years, Bryant Hornets freshmen teams have gone 66-12-1 so it’s no wonder that[more] every team they face, particularly in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference (where they’ve gone 41-11 in that time), sees a bull’s eye on those Bryant blue uniforms.
What’s the old saying? “You’ve got to beat the best to be the best.”
It’s been since Oct. 28, 2010 that a Junior Hornets team has suffered a loss, in fact. But, on Thursday night at Panthers Stadium, Bryant ran into a rugged, determined Cabot South team that hit the bull's eye with force, holding the Hornets to a net of 24 yards of total offense and one first down. The Panthers thus made touchdown drives on its first two possessions stand up for a 14-0 win.
Lining up with two tight ends in Cabot's standard — the venerable old dead-T full-house backfield — the Panthers pounded out 134 yards on the ground in the first half, highlighted by Jordan Green’s 55-yard touchdown gallop.
The Hornets’ defense played tougher in the second half, limiting Cabot South to just 56 yards in only three fewer snaps.
On offense, Bryant just couldn’t block the Panthers’ front seven. The Hornets’ lone first down and most of the yardage came on one play. On their last possession of the game, quarterback Gunnar Burks tossed a 39-yard pass to Quinton Royal, which got the team as close as it’d get to the goal line in the game, at the Cabot South 37.
But the Hornets lost yardage on the next two plays, one on a fumbled snap that Burks couldn’t gain control of in time to make anything happen; the other on a sack. A third-down pas fell incomplete and the Hornets had to punt.
Cabot South took over with 5:01 left to play and ran out the clock.
Green finished with 97 yards on 13 rushes after picking up 82 in the first half.
The evening got off to a rough start for the Hornets who were cited for penalties before they could get off the first snap of the game. On a third-and-12 from the 33, Burks was sacked leading to Bryant’s first punt.
The Hornets defense forced the Panthers into a third-and-3 situation but that’s when Green broke his touchdown run down the left sideline. Holdyn Barnes ran in the two-point conversion to make it 8-0 with 3:25 left in the first quarter.
And, on Bryant’s first play after the kickoff, a fumble on a hand-off was covered by the Panthers’ Steven Powell at the Hornets’ 36.
The Hornets’ defense was stingy. It took 11 plays to cover that 36 yards to a second score but, on a fourth-and-3 from the 5, halfback Mark Odom got in the end zone off right tackle.
This time, Barnes was stopped short of completing the two-point conversion on a nice open-field tackle by Jaelyn Jones.
That fourth down conversion was the second of the drive, which also included a pair of third-down conversions.
The Hornets were held to 1 yard in three plays on its subsequent possession and, after a punt, the Panthers, despite starting at their own 3 after a nice punt by Burks, used up the final 3:00 of the first half.
Another solid defensive play by Jones and one by Demaja Price helped the Hornets force Cabot’s first punt on the opening possession of the second half.
The Bryant offense, however, still couldn’t get anything going. After three plays netted nothing, Burks got a great roll on his punt, which wound up being a 54-yarder.
Cabot tried its lone pass of the game on first down from its 23. It was tipped three times and fell incomplete then was negated by an ineligible receiver downfield penalty. The Panthers’ coaches argued but the pass had been intended for Powell, who was wearing number 50. Though he was a tight end, he was playing outside a Robby Colton who, at tackle, was wearing number 81.
The Panthers were unable to overcome the mark-off, thanks in part to a nice stop by Devon Alpe. Cabot had to punt again and, a play later, the Burks to Royal pass completion gave the Hornets a glimmer of hope only to see it snuffed out soon after.
It was a frustrating and bruising night for the Hornets. Notable injuries were suffered by middle linebacker Devin Howard, Alpe and safety Kris Croom along the way.
Now 1-1-1 on the season and 1-1 in conference play, the Hornets will try to bounce back on Thursday, Sept. 20, when they host Little Rock Catholic.
CABOT SOUTH 14, BRYANT 0
Score by quarter
BRYANT 0 0 0 0 — 0
Cabot South 8 6 0 0 — 14
CABOT SOUTH — Green 55 run (Barnes run), 3:25
CABOT SOUTH — Odom 5 run (run failed), 4:58
BRYANT Cabot South
First downs 1 11
Rushes-yds 12-(-20) 37-200
Passing 2-4-0 0-0-0
Passing yds 44 0
Punts-avg 4-38.3 2-46.0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties-yds 3-25 2-10
Rushing: BRYANT, Turner 4-2, Jacobs 3-(-3), Burks 5-(-19); CABOT SOUTH, Green 13-97, Reed 6-33, Odom 8-32, Holland 6-24, Barnes 3-15, Boyett 1-(-1).
Passing (C-A-I-Y): BRYANT, Burks 2-3-0-44, Jacobs 0-1-0-0.
Receiving: BRYANT, Royal 1-39, Turner 1-5.