The Bryant Hornets’ 17-14 win at Texarkana last season was just the third time in 22 meetings dating back to 1981 that that occurred. The other two were Bryant wins in the series have interesting stories behind them.
The first time Bryant ever beat Texarkana, the Hornets won one for the gipper, sotospeak. It was 1992 and Hornets head coach (now athletic director) Tom Farmer was laid up in the hospital with an ailing back. His Hornets went to Texarkana and pulled out a 21-20 win in overtime. At the time, they had a chance to make the Class AAAA State playoffs but, the next week, a 32-7 loss to the rival Benton Panthers spoiled that.
The Hornets didn’t beat the Razorbacks again until 1999. Again, at Texarkana, the Hornets, on their way to an unbeaten regular season, took a big step toward their first conference championship with a 17-14 win. It improved them to 9-0 and, the next week at Benton, with fans hanging from the treetops and roofs of nearby buildings, Bryant beat their arch-rival for the first time in 13 years to make it 10-0.
Tonight, when the Razorbacks visit Bryant, that 1999 team will be honored before the game with a reception in the BHS fieldhouse and a ceremony on the field at halftime.
Meanwhile, the 2009 Hornets will be trying to post Bryant’s first-ever home win over a Texarkana team.[more]
The Hornets are off to a 2-0 start but head coach Paul Calley said Texarkana will provide, “definitely the toughest test we’ve had so far.”
Though 0-2, the Razorbacks appeared to find themselves after the first quarter of their border war with Texarkana, Texas last week. Behind junior quarterback Kierre Harris, they rallied and had a chance to win late in the game before succumbing 34-28.
Harris, who also led a second half comeback against Bryant last season only to fall short, passed for 269 yards and rushed for 159 more.
“He’s very talented,” Calley observed. “A shifty runner, has a great arm. They can move the football. They proved that against Texas High.”
Typically speedy, the Hogs are not only playing their first road game of the season but the first on a natural surface. And after a soggy week, there’s a 60 percent chance of more rain before and during the contest.
That and the kicking game and it’s ability to produce a field position advantage were keys, according to Calley.
New Texarkana head coach Phillip Miller acknowledged, “Our offense is centered around our quarterback. He’s our leader and a playmaker. He has to do well and our team picks up on it.
“We’ve been playing two or three guys at running back and nobody’s really come to the top yet,” he added. “Our passing game has been pretty good at times.
Middle linebacker Lawrence Bead heads up the defense which also seemed to jell in the second half against Texas High, though, in two games, it has surrendered 69 points.
“We’re pretty high on our defense,” Miller said, nonetheless. “Our offense has put them in some difficult situations at times but they continue to play hard and I think they’ll get better and better with every game.
“We quit shooting ourselves in the foot and started doing some positive things,” the coach said of the rally against Texas High. “The kids started gaining a little confidence and good things happened.”
Regarding Bryant, Miller said, “They’ll be tough. I know they’ve got a good ballclub and, of course, (running back Chris) Rycraw played for them last year and we know he’s an outstanding tailback. We’ll have to do a good job on him if we’re going to be successful.”
The senior running back has rushed for 365 yards on 21 carries this season so far, playing about a game’s worth of minutes.
The Hornets were able to augment Rycraw’s threat with some passing in each of their wins including an early 44-yard TD strike from Jimi Easterling to Brandon Parish early in their 49-3 win at Sheridan.
Calley said he expects the Hogs to put eight in the box to try to force the Hornets to beat them through the air. He said his team will have to execute to offset the superior athletic ability of the Hogs.