The Little Rock Horace Mann Bearcats seventh grade team had seven possessions in their game Tuesday night at Bryant Stadium and, on four of them, the defense of the Bryant White Hornets seventh grade team of Bryant Middle School forced turnovers.
That made a 1-yard touchdown run by Martavion Earl in the final minute of the first half hold up for a 6-0 Hornets’ victory in their season-opener.
Both teams were stout on defense. Though Earl wound up rushing for 82 yards, Bryant White finished with a net total offense of 50. But the Hornets suffered just one turnover, an interception that left the Bearcats deep in their own territory late in the game.
To go with the four turnovers, Mann produced just 43 yards of offense.
The Bearcats had picked up a first down on the opening possession of the game but, on a first-down run, a fumble was forced by the Hornets that Jakarrion Edgerson recovered.
Earl ripped off a 17-yard run on the first play for Bryant White but, moments later, a holding penalty knocked the Hornets off track. And when quarterback Cory Nichols was sacked twice.
Mann got the ball back at its 32 and, aided by a personal foul penalty for a late hit out of bounds, the Bearcats reached the Bryant White 42. On the first play there, however, the Hornets forced another fumble that Earl recovered.
After an exchange of (virtual) punts (the ball was moved 30 yards downfield with no live kicking), The Hornets wound up with the ball at their own 33. Aided by a face mask penalty, they got into Mann territory. Earl then broke free for 35 yards to the 15. His 9 yard dash reached the 6.
A pass completion from Nichols to Jaylon Brown just missed getting to the end zone but Earl scored on the next snap with :35.2 showing on the clock.
To start the second half, Bryant picked up a first down but couldn’t keep the possession going. In turn, Mann picked up a first down then faced a third-and-9 at its own 36 when the Hornets’ Jordan Knox intercepted at the Bryant 46 and returned it to the Bearcats’ 21.
Though a double-reverse lost yardage, Earl crashed for 11 yards to the 15. A play later, however, a pass into the end zone was picked off by the Bearcats’ Kyveon Perkins and returned to the 25 with just under seven minutes left to play.
An incomplete pass started the possession. It was followed by two tackles for losses by the Hornets.
The Bearcats would get one more shot, getting the ball at their own 28. But a fumble on first down was recovered by the Hornets’ Gabriel Childs and the Hornets ran out the rest of the time for the victory.
Bryant White is scheduled to play again on Monday, Sept. 18, at home against Little Rock Forest Heights.