CABOT — For the Bryant Hornets junior varsity team, the first half of Monday’s game against[more] the Cabot Panthers’ JV was the proverbial Murphy’s Law, whatever could go wrong . . .
They trailed 14-0 at the half and 16-0 at one point early in the second.
In the second half, however, the Hornets roared back and had a chance to win at the end with a two-point conversion. It was unsuccessful however. On the ensuing onside kick, Greyson Giles appeared to recover for Bryant but, after a meeting of the officials, it was ruled that he didn’t have possession inbounds. Cabot was awarded the ball and took a knee to close out a heart-stopping 23-22 win.
“(Josh) Lowery kicked a heck of an onside kick,” noted Hornets coach Dale Jones. “It was one of those slow rollers. There was a scuffle for it. Greyson fell on it and I thought he fell on it inbounds.
“Our kids played so hard,” Jones added. “It was an entertaining game, to say the least.”
In the first half, the Hornets struggled with shotgun snaps.
“We had four or five over the quarterback’s head,” Jones related. “We recovered two or three of them but there were three we didn’t recover.”
As a result, Cabot’s first touchdown drive only had to go 5 yards, the second needed only to cover 18 yards.
To start the second half, the Panthers drove inside the Bryant 10 but the Hornets’ defense made a stand and forced them to turn it over on downs. But another bad snap went through the end zone for a safety to make it 16-0.
Things began to turn Bryant’s way after the ensuing free kick. Junior Justin Hollingshead forced a fumble that Jacob Stringer recovered for the Hornets. This time, Bryant took advantage of the short field and got on the board when Wesley Akers found Austin Powell for a TD from the 9. A try for two succeeded as Akers and Powell hooked up again to make it 16-8.
On the Hornets’ kickoff, they got another break as Cabot fumbled again. Davis Nossaman forced the fumble and recovered it for Bryant.
Akers completed a short pass to Ben Clark over the middle that Clark turned into a 53-yard touchdown play. Akers ran in a two-point conversion and the Hornets had pulled even at 16.
After Lowery kicked off into the end zone for a touchback, Cabot marched 80 yards in a vintage time-consuming drive to regain the lead, 23-16.
Bryant’s answering march included completions by Akers to Nossaman, Powell and Giles, who caught the 30-yard scoring strike to bring the Hornets within a point with time running out.
“Coach (Brad) Stroud, Coach (John) Wells and I all talked about it and we decided to go for two and we didn’t get it,” Jones recounted. “Akers got hit in the mouth as he threw the ball and we didn’t get it.”
Jones praised the play of Collin Battaglia and Daniel Richards on defense.
“On a big third and 14, Battaglia broke up a pass and made them have to punt it back to us,” the coach said.
The Hornets Junior Varsity team returns to action at home against Little Rock Central on Monday, Sept. 26.