NORTH LITTLE ROCK — There was a time when the annual freshman game between the Bryant Hornets and the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats was a true showdown of two teams that were annually the best or among the best in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference.
But the Wildcats weren’t quite up to past standards in 2019 and, with only about 30 players on the team, the 2020 version is in the midst of a pretty lean year.
A year ago, the Hornets, on the way to a 10-0 season, drubbed the Charging Wildcats, 34-6, at Bryant as part of a 6-3 campaign.
On Thursday, the Hornets scored on each of its first five possessions. And, with the 35-0 lead, the clock rolled non-stop over the final 12:56 of the game with the mercy rule in effect.
It was Bryant’s third consecutive 35-0 mercy rule game after opening the season with a 36-6 win at Warren.
Bryant snapped the ball just 18 times on offense, just 11 snaps to get it to 35-0. With those 11 plays, the Hornets amassed 249 yards.
Quarterback Gideon Motes completed six passes in the game (in eight attempts) and four of them went for touchdowns. James Martin caught two, Mytorian Singleton had one and Cason Trickey hauled in the fourth.
In addition, Singleton returned a punt 43 yards for a score.
Defensively, Bryant held the Charging Wildcats to just 24 yards of total offense, all on the ground. Though North Little Rock had designs on passing the ball a few times, the quarterbacks never were able to get a throw away. At one point, ‘Cat’s quarterback Jonathan Smith had been sacked for losses of 39 yards. North Little Rock had 11 lost-yardage plays in just the first half, 13 for the game.
The first sack came on the third play of the game. Dylan Enis and Hank Penfield dropped Smith for a loss of 7 back at the Wildcats’ 8.
Javonte Harris punted it away. Singleton caught the kick at the 43 and sprinted the distance for the opening touchdown.
North Little Rock’s deepest threat came on the ensuing series. With the help of good field position (at their own 45), the Wildcats used a face mask penalty to get into Bryant territory. The eventually reached the Hornets’ 19.
But a false-start penalty started their backtracking. Nick Biskey and Gavin Lewis hauled down Harris for a loss of 3.
The drive continued, however, when the Hornets jumped offsides on a fourth-and-3.
They got to the 10 but faced a fourth-and-5. That’s when Sebastian Oltmans sacked Smith at the 17.
Bryant took over on downs and scored immediately. Motes threw a screen pass to Martin, who took it to the house, 83 yards. Martin then ran in the two-point conversion and it was 14-0.
Thanks to a major illegal participation penalty, North Little Rock picked up a first down on its next possession but, despite being in Bryant territory again, the Wildcats were forced to punt.
Bryant’s ensuing possession last all of four plays. Motes kept for an 18-yard run to convert Bryant’s lone third down (in the first three quarters). He then went up top to Singleton on a 56-yard touchdown pass. Jaime Perez added the extra point to make it 21-0 with nearly four minutes still to play in the half.
All three of North Little Rock’s plays on its next possession lost yardage. On first down, Oltmans and Hayden Sallling did the honors. On second down, Ashford made the tackle. On third-and-14, Hank Penfield sacked Smith at the 17.
Bryant got the ball back with 1:59 left in the half. After an exchange of penalties, Motes found Martin for a second time for a touchdown from 39 yards out.
Torres’ kick made it 28-0.
In the final moments of the half, T.J. Lindsey combined with Penfield on another sack.
Bryant got the ball to start the third quarter and drove for the score that made it a mercy-rule game. Singleton caught a 23-yard pass from Motes. Trickey caught an 8-yard toss then Ashford broke a 13-yard run that was only stopped when he slipped near the sideline.
A play later, Motes connected with Trickey again for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Christian Chandler’s extra point made it 35-0 with 5:56 still to play in the third quarter.
Bryant’s starting defense played one more series. The Wildcats picked up a first down thanks to a 10-yard run by Smith, their longest play from scrimmage in the game. Three plays later, however, Lindsey dropped Delkarai Davis for a 6-yard loss and Bryant took over on downs again.
Chelton Murdock recovered North Little Rock’s onside kick then turned in a pair of runs from scrimmage picking up 12 yards. But a pair of lost-yardage plays had the Hornets facing a third-and-18 at the Cats’ 43. Aiden Hughes attempted his only pass of the game and connected for 41 yards to Jaylen Ryland to the 2.
Unfortunately, a 15-yard penalty pushed them back and a fumbled snap wound up giving the ball back to North Little Rock with 2:24 to play.
The Wildcats ran three plays before the game was over.
Now 4-0, Bryant is set to host Conway Blue on Thursday, Oct. 1.