Flurry at the end of the first half sparks Bryant White to opening win

CABOT — Highlighted by a 73-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Ahmad Adams and a 71-yard interception return by Arlon Jenkins, the Bryant White Hornets eighth grade team of Bryant Middle School opened the 2015 season with a convincing 28-8 victory over the Cabot White Panthers eighth grade team of Cabot North Junior High Thursday night.

Adams and quarterback Derrick Rose each had touchdown runs from scrimmage in the victory, while the defense limited the Panthers to just 69 yards of total offense, almost all of which came on their first possession.

The Hornets’ offense actually only ran eight plays in the first half, all apart of a game-opening march to paydirt. With Cabot White piled up inside to try to slow down Adams, Rose turned in the big plays in the drive. He converted a third down with a 12-yard keeper and, later, kept on a fourth-and-4 from the Cabot 39 and wove his way to the 2. Adams scored from there.

Rose finished with 97 yards rushing on nine carries.

Cabot White responded with a vintage Cabot drive. Out of the dead-T, used program-wide, they drove for their score in 15 plays. The longest run was a 9-yarder on a quarterback keeper by Clayton Gray to convert the last of four third-downs along the way. A play later, Darius Berry scored from the 1.

After the Hornets had been unable to convert after their score, the Panthers tacked on a two-point run by Graham Turner to take an 8-6 lead.

But it didn’t last long. On the ensuing kickoff, Adams sliced through the Cabot coverage and scored. Another try for two failed but the Hornets had a 12-8 lead with 1:41 left in the half.

With time running out, the Panthers picked up a first down — their last one of the game ­— on the ground, reaching the Bryant 36. But Catrell Wallace stopped Gray for no gain and, after a timeout with :42 left, the Panthers went to the air, something they hate to do.

After two incompletions, Jenkins stepped in front of a fourth-down throw and laced his way to the other end for another 6 with :18 left. This time, Rose threw to Wallace for the two-point conversion and Bryant White held a commanding lead, 22-0 at the half.

Cabot got the ball to start the second half and got a break when the Hornets had too many men on the field for the first snap. But, even though the Panthers had a first-and-5, they were unable to pick up a first down as the Hornets’ defense stepped up. The next three plays netted one yard. On third down, Taylor Martin and Wallace combined on a stop for no gain. On fourth down, Brantley Thomas and Austin Bailey teamed up on a tackle for no gain and the Hornets took over.

Cabot finished the game with a net total offense in the second half of zero yards.

“We didn’t change much at halftime,” said Bryant coach Brad Smothermon. “We moved a couple of people around but basically just challenged them and made them do their assignments, just reminding them to just do their job.

“With the return for a touchdown and an interception for a touchdown, our offense didn’t play too much but when we did I think we executed decently for the first full game,” he noted. “We still have stuff to work on but the boys played hard all game.”

The Hornets put the finishing touches on the scoring with a 44-yard touchdown drive that used up most of the third quarter. Again, Rose converted a third-down with a keeper for 13 then Adams broke a 15-yarder to the 21. Rose took a turn and wasn’t stopped until he reached the 1.

Though they lost 2 yards on the next play, Rose kept for the touchdown with :25 left in the third period. He also ran in the two-point conversion after a Cabot penalty gave the Hornets a second chance at it.

Cabot’s subsequent (and last) offensive series went backwards. Thomas made a stop for a loss then Adams and Korbin Bailey combined on another tackle for lost yardage. A fourth-down pass fell incomplete and the Hornets took over with 4:57 left.

They used all of that up with a march that reached the 3 as time ran out. The drive featured the dominance of the Bryant offensive line and the running of Jace Freeman. He had a pair of 9-yard runs and, on the final play, blasted for 8, coming up just short of scoring.

Next up for Bryant White will be a game on Tuesday, Sept. 15, against Little Rock Forest Heights at Bryant Stadium.

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