SILOAM SPRINGS — On a night that was downright frigid, there was far too much ice being distributed by Bryant athletic trainer Christa Finney.
The concern for both the Bryant Hornets and the Siloam Springs Panthers going into their contest on Friday night at Glenn Black Stadium went beyond winning and losing. Though that was, of course, the primary focus, a strong secondary one was to come out of the contest in good health because both teams faced crucial games ahead, which would reguire all hands on deck.
After a sluggish start Friday, Bryant, now 7-0-1 overall an 6-0 in 7A/6A-Central Conference play, scored 31 points in the second quarter to not only take control of the game but leave them 4 points away from the mercy-rule and a quicker start on the four-hour bus trip home.
Along the way, however, four Hornets’ starters incurred injuries requiring that ice: running backs Kylon Boyle (ankle) and Savonte Turner (shoulder), quarterback Brandan Warner (elbow) and defensive end Hunter Fugitt, the team’s top tackler for the season (shoulder).
Bryant needs all four next Friday when they host the undefeated Conway Wampus Cats in a showdown for a conference title, a first-round bye in the Class 7A playoffs, and a home playoff game or two. The Hornets would also like to see the return of defensive tackle Cameron Murray (pneumonia) who has missed back-to-back games now.
Though Bryant went on to win 31-7, it may have been a costly endeavor. The next few days will determine that.
Otherwise, the Hornets, though it wasn’t their best game as a whole, got done what they needed to do to keep their unbeaten record intact, putting them in position for an outright title in the showdown with Conway.
Siloam Springs, coming off a 57-3 shellacking against Greenwood, held out senior quarterback Chris Lampton, who has accounted for nearly 2,000 total yards rushing and passing this season. In his stead, Luke Lampton, a sophomore who’s his younger brother, started and led his team with 78 yards rushing in 17 carries but went 9 for 21 passing with an interception for only 54 yards.
Bryant, which had forced 23 turnovers in eight games, picked up three more against Siloam Springs. Aong with Ben Bruick’s interception, Devon Alpe and Drew Tipton recovered fumbles.
The Hornets rushed for 141 yards, below their average, but Warner completed 11 of 16 passes for 178 yards including a 75-yard strike to Evan Lee for a touchdown. Junior Gunnar Burks completed all six of his passes in the second half for 57 yards.
The Hornets, however, suffered a pair of turnovers including one early in the fourth quarter when they were 14 yards away from a touchdown that would’ve instituted the sportsmanship (or “mercy”) rule and a running clock the rest of the way.
Playing on a natural surface for the first time since a trip to Little Rock J.A. Fair two years ago, the Hornets were unable to pick up a first down on their first two possessions of the game. Siloam Springs fared little better. Cornerback Mark Nelson stopped a bubble scream for a 4-yard loss on the Panthers’ first possession. Connor Chapdelaine and Phillip Isom-Green combined to drop Lampton for a loss on third down.
Siloam got nothing on its second possession and punted. Bryant managed a pair of first downs but wound up punting again. An 18-yard pass completion from Warner to Boyle was the highlight of the series.
The Hornets forced another punt when a third-down play was foiled by Fugitt and Mario Waits.
Bryant got close to blocking Gus Wright’s punt. Bruick got a hand on the kick but, as the second quarter began, the Hornets had possession at their own 35.
And when Boyle slashed for 33 yards on the first snap of the quarter, the Hornets were on their way. Boyle added a 9-yard run then Warner kept for 15 to set up Turner’s 8-yard TD burst.
Bryant kicker Alex Denker put each of his other kickoffs in the end zone for a touchback, except for one. After that first score, Denker mis-hit his kickoff and the ball dribbled to the 48. The Panthers went three-and-out nonetheless and Wright booted Bryant back to its own 20. A play later, Warner found Lee who was a couple of steps in front of his defender on a deep post route. The junior hauled in the pass in stride, sprinted down the sideline and, breaking a tackle inside the 10, scored standing up to make it 14-0.
The Panthers’ offensive frustrations deepened as they were unable to pick up a single yard on three plays. They punted back to the Hornets who took over at the Siloam 47. Keyed by Warner’s 26-yard connection with Boyle, the Hornets reached the 5. Boyle scored from there — the third of five different players that had touchdowns.
With 6:37 left in the half, the Hornets had the ball back as Tipton scooped up a fumble and was brought down 18 yards from the end zone.
Unable to pick up a first down, however, Denker came on and drilled a 31-yard field goal to make it 24-0.
Bruick’s intereption with 2:06 left in the half, set up a six-play, 44-yard drive that made it 31-0. Burks took over after Warner got battered on a roughing the passer violation. He had completed an 18-yard pass to Orender, an 11-yard toss to DeAmonte Terry and a 23-yard throw to Orender. From the 8, Burks kept twice and scored from the 3 with just 0:26 left.
The second half startes with an exchange of punts. Denker, with just under seven minutes left in the third quarter, punted the Panthers back to their own 1 with Tipton and Brenden Young getting there to down it.
After nearly tackling Langton for a safety, the Bryant defense forced Wright to punt out of his own end zone. It looked like the Hornets would have good field position near the 50, but the return was sabotaged by a fumble that Siloam Springs recovered.
The Panthers drove to the Bryant 16 but Kyle Lovelace and Hayden Knowles made a stop for a loss then Devon Howard stopped a short pass, holding it to 2 yards. The d-line put heavy pressure on Lampton who tried to scramble and get rid of the ball to avoid a loss only to be cited for intentional grounding.
Ryan Hall sacked Lampton and Alpe recovered the resulting loose ball.
Bryant took over at its 42. Burks hit Madison Schrader on a 14-yard pass then found Quinton Royal for 6. Seth Tucker picked up 5 yards to the 25 and, on the next play, Burks tossed to Austin Kelly, who struggled to pick up more yardage and wound up suffering a fumble at the Panthers’ 14.
Siloam Springs recovered and sparked by running back Colin Dolezal, drove 86 yards in 14 plays to get on the board with 4:04 left in the game. Lampton kept for the TD from the 5 to make it 31-7.
The Hornets got the ball back after the ensuing kickoff and proceeded to chew up the last 3:59 of the game.
HORNETS 31, PANTHERS 7
Score by quarters
BRYANT 0 31 0 0 — 31
Siloam Springs 0 0 0 7 — 7
BRYANT — Turner 8 run (Denker kick), 10:58
BRYANT — Lee 75 pass from Warner (Denker kick), 9:02
BRYANT — Boyle 5 run (Denker kick), 6:37
BRYANT — Denker 31 field goal, 5:10
BRYANT — Burks 3 run (Denker kick), 0:26
SILOAM SPRINGS — L.Langton 5 run (Vazquez kick), 4:04
BRYANT Siloam Springs
First downs 17 13
Rushes-yds 29-141 35-174
Passing 17-22-0 9-21-1
Passing yds 235 54
Punts-avg 4-34.8 7-35.3
Fumbles-lost 3-2 4-2
Penalties-yds 5-31 6-85
Rushing: BRYANT, Boyle 5-51, Warner 2-24, Turner 6-22, Coleman 5-21, Burks 5-13, Tierney 3-11, Tucker 1-5, Terry 2-(-1); SILOAM SPRINGS, L.Lampton 17-78, Dolezal 8-57, Hughes 9-39, Baldwin 1-0.
Passing (C-A-I-Y): BRYANT, Warner 11-16-0-178, Burks 6-6-0-57; SILOAM SPRINGS, L.Lampton 9-21-1-54.
Receiving: BRYANT, Boyle 3-29, Schrader 3-24, Lee 2-80, Orender 2-41, Kelly 2-18, Royal 2-16, Tierney 1-16, Terry 1-11, Turner 1-0; SILOAM SPRINGS, Davis 4-13, Baldwin 2-11, Dolezal 1-13, Horn 1-11, Hughes 1-6.