Freshman Hornets roll to 44-0 win at Russellville
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By Rob Patrick
RUSSELLVILLE — The Bryant Hornets freshman football team ran only eight plays in the first quarter of their game against[more] the Russellville East Whirlwinds Thursday night.
Three of them produced points.
That fast start coupled with some shutdown defense that forced a whopping six turnovers, the Hornets cruised to a 44-0 win to improve to 3-0 on the season. They begin play in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference next Thursday at Conway Blue.
Though the competition figures to get much tougher now, in the three non-league outings, the Hornets outscored their competition 105-8.
Against Russellville East, they built a 29-0 halftime lead and played second and third team players the entire second half. With Mar’Kevius Nelson’s second touchdown run from 31 yards out early in the third quarter, the sportsmanship (mercy) rule went into effect with the clock running continuously.
In fact, Nelson carried the ball just twice in the game and scored both times. His other run covered 67 yards.
Hornets quarterback Brandon Warner completed 10 of 17 passes for 151 yards, all in the first half. His completions included TD passes to Mitchell Reeves and Jacob Gorham.
Bryant finished with 339 yards of total offense, 297 of that in the first half.
Defensively, the Hornets allowed just 77 yards of offense in the first half and 135 for the game. Brendan Young and Ryan Hall recovered Russellville fumbles while Bryce Hardin intercepted two passes. Clark Garland and Kyle Thompson each had an interception for the Hornets as well.
It didn’t take long for Bryant to assert itself. On the opening kickoff, K.J. Hill nearly went the distance. He was brought down at midfield but, on the first play from scrimmage, Brushawn Hunter went the rest of the way.
The 50-yard dash and Alex Denker’s extra point made it 7-0 before the game was minute old.
The defense took its turn at setting the tone. The Whirlwinds ran the ball on their first two snaps and lost a yard each time. On the first play, Kyle Lovelace and Drew Allen made the stop. On the second, Austin Trusty and Young smacked down tailback Jenner Robertson. A third-down pass fell incomplete and the Hornets had the football back after a punt.
The ensuing series took all of four plays to cover 79 yards. All were pass completions by Warner. He connected with Hill for 11 then 24 yards. Gorham grabbed a 9-yard throw but fumbled. Fortunately for the Hornets, Zack McConnell was there to jump on it.
On the next play, Warner swung a pass to Reeves who turned up the sideline and went the distance for a 27-yard touchdown play. Denker added the PAT and it was 14-0.
After the kick, Bryant’s Jason Hastings, a starting receiver, went down and, alarmingly, had to be carted off the field. But it was mainly a cautionary move according the Bryant head coach Kenny Horn. After the game, Horn checked on his player at the Russellville hospital and reported that he fortunately was going to be fine, after suffering a ‘stinger.’
Russellville picked up its initial first down on its subsequent possession as Chase Bicanovsky broke a 12-yard run. But the Whirlwinds could get little more as Devin Kelly and Young stopped a second try by Bicanovsky and a pair of throws by quarterback Drake Adams fell incomplete.
The Winds punted the Hornets back to their own 18 but, after runs by Hunter and Hill picked up a first down, Nelson set sail on his first TD sprint. On the conversion, a bad snap was picked up by holder Ty Harris who outran the defense to the corner for a two-point conversion that made it 22-0.
Bicanovsky out-leapt Bryant corner Steven Murdock for a deep pass down the middle for Russellville’s biggest play of the night, a 42-yard completion from Adams. Harris made a touchdown-saving tackle but the Whirlwinds were at the Bryant 38.
Another Adams to Bicanovsky completion reached the 32 but, on second down there, Trusty lowered the boom on Robertson for a loss of 4 yards and, on the next play, Bicanovsky had the ball ripped from his arms and Young recovered at the 36.
That led to Bryant’s only first-half possession that didn’t produce points though a 12-yard completion from Warner to Hunter picked up a first down and a short toss to Reeves got the Hornets back into Russellville territory.
After taking over on downs, the Whirlwinds picked up a first but two plays later, Harden made the first of his interceptions, returning it to the Bryant 27. Six plays later, the Hornets were in the end zone again. The big play of the drive was a 32-yard completion from Warner to Murdock. On the next snap, Warner hit Gorham for the 6. With 1:08 left in the half, Denker kicked it to 29-0.
Two plays into the second half, Hall recovered a Russellville fumble at the Whirlwinds’ 31 and, on the next snap, Nelson sprinted to the end zone. Another bad snap was scooped up by Harris who ran it in again and it was 37-0 with 5:58 still to play in the third quarter.
On the second play of the next Russellville possession, Garland picked off a pass from Adams and raced toward the end zone. He was knocked out of bounds at the 1 so, on the next play, Hunter Lawhon dove in for the final touchdown. Denker put the finishing touches on the score with his PAT.
The teams traded turnovers the rest of the way. The Whirlwinds drove to the Bryant 29 thanks in large part to a pass to Bicanovsky for 34 yards from Corban Gotcher. But on a second-and-10 at the 29, Gotcher’s pass was picked by Harden and returned to the Russellville 43.
Bryant’s Travon Lee, struggling for extra yardage, lost the ball on the next play and Russellville recovered. The very next play, Thompson intercepted and returned into Whirlwind territory. He fumbled but teammate Brent Reeves recovered.
On three Lawhon carries, the Hornets ran out the clock but, appropriately enough for the fourth quarter, there was a fumble on the last play that Russellville recovered.
BRYANT 44, RUSSELLVILLE EAST 0
Score by quarters
BRYANT 22 7 15 0 — 44
Russellville East 0 0 0 0 — 0
BRYANT — Hunter 50 run (Denker kick), 7:38
BRYANT — Reeves 27 pass from Warner (Denker kick), 4:30
BRYANT — Nelson 67 run (Harris run), 1:39
BRYANT — Gorham 12 pass from Warner (Denker kick), 1:08
BRYANT — Nelson 31 run (Harris run), 5:58
BRYANT — Lawhon 1 run (Denker kick), 1:45
BRYANT Russellville East
First downs 12 5
Rushes-yds 11-188 14-30
Passing yds 151 105
Passing 10-17-0 6-15-4
Punts-avg. 0-00.0 2-37.0
Fumbles-lost 4-2 4-2
Penalties-yds 3-20 2-16
Rushing: BRYANT, Nelson 2-98, Hunter 3-72, Hill 1-7, Lawhon 4-6, Lee 1-5; RUSSELLVILLE EAST, Hardman 4-22, Bicanovsky 3-12, Robertson 5-1, Britt 1-0, Adams 1-(-5).
Passing (C-A-I-Y): BRYANT, Warner 10-17-0-151; RUSSELLVILLE EAST, Adams 4-10-2-68; Gotcher 2-5-2-37.
Receiving: BRYANT, Hill 3-51, Reeves 3-35, Gorham 2-21, Murdock 1-32, Hunter 1-12; RUSSELLVILLE EAST, Bicanovsky 4-85, Britt 1-15, Vaughn 1-5.