Hornets vs. Panthers: The History

By Martin Couch

A brief summary of each of the previous games in the series:[more] 

1974 – Subjects allegedly from Bryant painted the Panther at Benton High School pink…Benton defeated Bryant 28-0 at C.W. Lewis Stadium in the first meeting ever between the two teams. The game was arranged the previous year by former Bryant Hornet head coach Dwight Fite and Benton head coach Max Graham. Bryant quarterback Mark Buchannan completed eight passes for 72 yards, while running backs Barry and Gary Sutton gained 24 and 18 yards, respectively. Benton quarterback Bennie Deere threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Clark Brewster, while runningbacks Pat Ramsay and Moses Cunningham gained 89 and 81 yards. Ramsay scored two touchdowns and Cunningham added one score in the Panther's initial victory over the Hornets.

1975 – Benton beat Bryant 10-0 in the rain at Ashley Field in Bryant on Sept. 19. The Panthers rushed for 275 yards led by 106 yards on the ground from fullback Bryan Larsen alone. Mark Buchannan quarterbacked the Hornets, but on a third-and-8 play the lights at Ashley Field went out on the home side and play was never stopped. A Bryant punt bounced off a Panther player with the score 0-0 and rolled into the end zone where Bryant recovered. However, a referee ruled that a Hornet had touched the ball first and the recovery touchdown was disallowed. Larsen and runningback Greg Avery carried the ball and setup quarterback Fred Swain's touchdown, which was the only one allowed in the game.

1976 – Benton's running game was too much for Bryant in a 28-7 Panther win. Using the I-formation, Benton racked up 284 rushing yards from Greg Avery and Jerry Wilson, who had 110 yards each. Benton's Jeff Goff scored on a 5-yard run, then Avery scored from eight yards out. Goff stopped a Bryant drive with an interception and Wilson got a touchdown run to make it a 20-0 Benton lead in the first half. Bryant's Kenny Camp scooped up a fumble and raced 70 yards for the Hornets' lone touchdown. It was the last Benton-Bryant game at legendary Ashley Field.

1977 – The Hornets were no match for the Panthers, who easily won a 42-0 shutout at C.W. Lewis Stadium. Benton went on to claim a state championship by defeating Conway later that year. In the rivalry game, Rick Spivey scored on a 15-yard run, Nick Norris returned a punt for a touchdown, Danny Adams caught a touchdown pass from Spivey, Norris scored on a 20-yard run and Jeff Thomas scored with an 11-yard run up the middle.

1978 – On a rainy night at Bryant's new campus stadium, Greg Church booted a 23-yard field goal in the second quarter to give the Hornets a 3-0 lead thanks to a Mark Jones recovery of a Panthers fumble. Todd Fuggitt stopped a Benton threat by recovering a fumble at the Bryant 17, while Brian Cummins, Perry Williams and Joey Self led the Hornet offense and defense. Self later recovered another Benton fumble just before halftime to stop another scoring threat. In the second half, Panthers quarterback Jimmy Simmons was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct and Travis Standridge took over. Standridge just missed a wide-open Kendal Smithwho had broken free in the Bryant secondary that would have been a score. The next pass was short and Bryant's Lance King sacked Standridge for a 13-yard loss on fourth down to secure Bryant's first victory over Benton. Russell Williams led the Hornets rushing attack that night with 40 yards.

1979 – The Panthers blanked the Hornets 21-0 behind 160 yards rushing by Jeff Bowers, who also had a 67-yard touchdown on a punt return. Scott Nalley scored the game's first touchdown on a 14-yard run and George Pledger added the extra point. Chuck Ramsey scored Benton's second touchdown with six minutes to go in the game. Davey Riner intercepted a Bryant pass to secure the win after Bowers punt return for a touchdown.

1980 – Bryant scored first when Michael Wallace capped off a 10-play, 39-yard drive in the second quarter with a 2-yard leap over the Panthers defense. Benton quarterback Gil Polk passed to tightend Eric Chilton for 30 yards and two plays later Polk scored to tie the game. Polk came back to score again on a 25-yard touchdown run to put Benton up 14-7. Willie "Pop" Jones had a 49-yard touchdown run for the Panthers in the second half and Chuck Ramsey picked off a Steve Gregory pass and returned it 35-yards for a 28-7 win. Benton scored three times in the final four minutes of the game.

1981 – Chuck Ramsey had a 69-yard run, but fumbled the ball on the Bryant 12. Hornet Tim Nichols fumbled it back on the next play and Benton quarterback Ritchie Keene threw to Mark Jones to set up a touchdown run from Bruce Barnes. Bryant quarterback Mark Akers was sacked six times by Benton's defense led by Kirby McClaine and Bill Lenz. Ramsey had an interception that set up his 8-yard touchdown run and George Pledger kicked a 32-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to lead Benton to a 17-0 victory.

1982 – Benton claimed Saline County's bragging rights with an overwhelming 30-10 victory over Bryant at Hornet Stadium. Two Glen Norris touchdown runs in the fourth quarter sealed the Panthers win. Junior fullback Eric Ailsworth picked up 103 yards on 10 carries for Benton, while Bryant's Gary Haynie had 80 yards on 16 carries and came up two yards short of a 1,000 yard rushing season. With Benton up 3-0, Bryant quarterback Mark Akers passed to Greg Hasley for a 43-yard gain to set up a David Babbitt 32-yard field goal to tie. A squib kickoff didn't work and Benton scored in two plays when Ailsworth took off on a 50-yard touchdown run. Akers guided the Hornets to the Benton 10 and fullback Marty Wilson scored from 9-yards out to tie the game for the second time. Paul Revis intercepted a Ritchie Keene pass to stop a Panther threat in the third quarter, but Jon Thomas sacked Akers on fourth down. Keene passed to Ailsworth for a 70-yard touchdown and Benton scored again with 2:37 to play to ice the game.

1983 – It was the Michael Callahan and Eric Ailsworth show for Benton in a 29-20 victory at C.W. Lewis Stadium. Gary Haynie led Bryant along with quarterback Scott Suggs. Suggs passed for 112 yards and threw touchdown passes to Mark Balisterri and Paul Revis. Benton's Jeff Devine caught a pass from Tracy Craig to get to the Bryant 15, but Hornet Shawn Stussy fell on a Panthers fumble. When Benton got the ball back, Callahan scored on a 19-yard run. Haynie came back for Bryant to score on a 3-yard plunge to make it 7-6 Hornets, but Benton utilized a flea-flicker from Dale Fisher to Bubba Barrow for a 43-yard touchdown before halftime. Callahan had a 52-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers up 20-7, but Suggs passed to Balisterri for a 19-yard score. Benton came back with a 40-yard field goal from Kinnis Pledger, but Suggs passed for a 31-yard touchdown to Paul Revis to close the gap to 23-20. A fake punt by the Panthers led to Ailsworth scoring on a 10-yard run with 42 seconds to play in the game.

1984 – Bryant junior quarterback Darryl Patton threw for 252 yards in route to a 32-17 win over the Panthers. Benton's Bubba Barrow scored the game's first touchdown, but Bryant's David Carnahan recovered a Benton fumble and Patton passed to Mark Balisterri to move the ball to the Panthers 2. Tim Miller scored from there, but Bryant trailed 7-6. Benton quarterback Wayne Mills passed to Trevor Ward to set up a 40-yard Barrow touchdown run. Patton and Balisterri hooked up for a 20-yard touchdown later in the first half to take a 13-10 lead and John McElroy recovered a Benton fumble to set up a field goal for Bryant before halftime. Ricky Brown caught a 6-yard touchdown pass for Bryant in the third quarter and Brad Hines scored on a short run to make it 29-10 Bryant. Ralph Nelson tacked on a 28-yard field goal for the Hornets before Barrow scored on a 76-yard run for the Panthers.

1985 – An instance classic in high school football was made when Bryant quarterback Darryl Patton threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Ralph Nelson with eight seconds to go in the game for a 14-7 Hornets win at C.W. Lewis Stadium. It was Bryant's first ever win at Benton and it was Panthers head coach Dwight Fite's first season. Benton and Bryant were headed into overtime, but a flag for illegal participation on the Panthers moved Bryant from fourth and 17 to fourth and two. Patton hit Wes Bonebright for a first down and set up the touchdown pass to Nelson. Brinson Williams scored the first touchdown of the game to give Bryant the early lead, but Benton came back in the second half with Brian Callahan scoring on a 56-yard run.

1986 – In a monsoon at Bryant, the Panthers defeated the Hornets 12-0 to begin a 13-game domination in the series. Benton quarterback Tommy Jumper completed a key pass to Scott Long, then Jumper optioned left and kept for a 7-yard touchdown. Mark Sikes picked off a Jumper pass in the second half, but Benton got a 63-yard punt to pen the Hornets deep and later ran in for another touchdown as the rains started again in the second half.

1987 – Benton defeated Bryant 35-7 at home with 400 yards of total offense. Tommy Jumper passed for 112 yards and ran for two touchdowns, that included a 96-yard run. Robert McNeely added 118 yards on the ground and Craig Lincoln broke loose for a 72-yard score. Chris Mosley passed for 221 yards for Bryant in the game and the Hornets only score came when Robert Gudino scored in the first half on a 14-yard run. Later, Jumper passed to Jason McGhee for a 22-yard touchdown, then Lincoln had a 45-yard touchdown run and Jumper threw a touchdown pass to Monte Cornwell and Greg Holmes ran for a 15-yard touchdown for Benton.

1988 – Benton safety Jake Goheen had two interceptions to spark a 21-7 Benton victory. The game was tied 7-7 into the second quarter when Bryant's William Reynolds intercepted a pass at the Benton 33. On the next play, Goheen picked off Bryant quarterback Lane Smith and Smith was ejected for a late hit on the play. Benton quarterback Brad Collatt passed to Drew Yoakum for a 24-yard touchdown in the third period and Kirk Shelnut scored his second touchdown of the game on a 52-yard run after another Goheen interception.

1989 – Benton quarterback Brad Collatt passed to Rick Daniel for a 75-yard touchdown to highlight a 21-0 victory over the Hornets. Collatt also passed to Jake Goheen for a 51-yard touchdown and hit Daniel for a 23-yard score. Bryant had 12 penalties for 140 yards in the game.

1990 – Benton defeated Bryant 36-0 as Brad Collatt threw three touchdowns in the first half. John Brewer, Rick Daniel caught those scoring passes and Brewer also added a rushing touchdown. Collatt passed to Dean Byrd for a 42-yard touchdown and Terry Berry scored on a 1-yard plunge.

1991 – Benton defeated Bryant in a cold rain at C.W. Lewis 10-0. Benton kicker John Graves kicked a 25-yard field goal for the only score of the first half. Judd Fite added a 1-yard touchdown in the third period, but Bryant's Adam Settle sacked Benton quarterback Page Echols and Hornet quarterback Kelly Reeder passed to Steven Maness to get the ball to the Benton 5. Panther noseguard Reid Kauffman sacked Reeder for a loss on third down and Bryant missed a field goal.

1992 – Benton erupted for a 32-7 victory over Bryant at Hornet Stadium. Kelly Reeder passed to Justin Krammer for a 15-yard touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead for Bryant, but the Panthers came back with 32 unanswered points. Page Echols threw a 25-yard touchdown to Blake Jumper on fourth and 11, Jumper also intercepted a pass for a touchdown, threw for one and caught another later in the game. Echols scored on a 1-yard sneak to ice the game late.

1993 – Benton defeated Bryant 35-12 in the Panthers first losing season ever. Ryan Peeler started at quarterback for the Hornets, but names like Ailsworth, Smith, Halpain, Whatley and Williams scored in the game on a 24-yard field goal, a 17-yard run, a 37-yard run and a 17-yard pass behind 400 yards of total offense.

1994 – The Hornets suffered fumbles, interceptions and a blocked punt in a 48-14 loss to Benton. The game changed with the Panthers up 14-7 and Bryant punter Kevin Nelson's kick was blocked by Tony Garcia. Jamie Whitaker recovered the ball and scored a touchdown. Bryant's Bryan Rusher scored on a 4-yard run, but Benton's Reco Land ran in from 4-yards out and the Panthers turned three more turnovers into scores in the second half.

1995 – Benton's tradition held out in a hard fought 12-7 victory over Bryant at C.W. Lewis. Bryant's Greg Jumper scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter that held up until halftime. In the second half, Benton's Kevin Burris had a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown to make it a 7-6. Benton came back to get a 4-yard touchdown with 7:16 to go in the game and held on to win. Bryant had seven turnovers in the contest.

1996 – Benton's Charles Norris rushed for 152 yards on 14 carries and scored both of the Panthers' touchdowns in a 14-0 shutout of Bryant. Norris had a 97-yard touchdown run and caught a scoring pass from quarterback Jared Nixon to ice the win.

1997 – The Panthers advanced to the playoffs with a 14-10 victory over the Hornets. Nathaniel Doddridge scored from 7-yards out to cap off a 95-yard drive. Benton's Jared Dixon also had a 57-yard run for a touchdown to make it 14-0 in the first quarter. From there, Bryant quarterback Jeff Johnson passed to Jeff Johnson for a touchdown, then Christoph Buchman added a field goal in the fourth quarter to get the Hornets to within four points.

1998 – Adam Roberson caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Levi Johnson to lift Benton to a 17-14 win over Bryant. Benton allowed Bryant only 72 yards of rushing in the game. Bryant quarterback Tadd Farmer had a 1-yard sneak for a score in the fourth quarter to put the Hornets up 14-10. Dusty Cunningham scored on a 10-yard run to start the fourth period for Benton after the Panthers had trailed 7-3 up to that point.

1999 – The year of change for Bryant Hornets came under the direction of Darryl Patton. The former Hornet quarterback watched his team defeat Benton 42-7. Bryant sophomore Matt White ran for a 55-yard touchdown for a 24-10 lead after trailing 10-7and had two other scores in the victory.

2000 – The year of the first official Salt Bowl game and Bryant came away with a 44-17 victory at Bryant. Hornet quarterback Jermaine Wooten passed for 508 yards and five touchdowns in the game. Wooten completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Mark Medlin, Nick Harbert kicked a 26-yard field goal, Wooten hit Matt White on a 90-yard screen for a score and White ran for a 4-yard touchdown then Wooten threw to Josh Farmer and Luke Brown for touchdowns. Benton's Justin McCauley had two 1-yard runs and Jared Little kicked a 48-yard field goal.

2001 – Benton held a 17-0 first half lead, but Bryant came back in the second half to win the game 28-23. Benton's Luke Woodard scored on a 2-yard run and Patrick Heffner added a 12-yard touchdown run before Jared Little booted a 44-yard field goal. The Hornets came back with Lance Parker throwing a 12-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Nixon and added scoring tosses of 13 and 21 later in the game, both to Jonathan Jameson on tipped passes to give Bryant a 21-17 lead. Parkers 23-yard touchdown pass to Nixon in the fourth quarter ended up being the game-winner as Benton came back to score on an 18-yard touchdown pass by Bryan Greer in the waning minutes.

2002 – Bryant kept its hold on the Salt Bowl trophy by beating Benton 16-13. Lance Parker passed A.J. Nixon for a score, but Bryant had to kick a game-winning field goal by Todd Bryan, who had three kicks on the night, with five minutes left in the game. Bryan Greer passed to Jeremy Westerman for a 13-yard touchdown, Jake Morgan had a 2-yard run and Jared Little kicked a field goal for Benton in the game. Parker accounted for 363 yards of total offense to lead Bryant. Parker and Brandon St. Pierre teamed up on a 33-yard pass and run for Bryant’s only touchdown. Zach Cardinal's 75-yard catch and run to the Benton 15 set up Bryan's winning field goal.

2003 – Benton and Bryant fought to a 34-34 tie, the first tie in the 30-year history of the rivalry. Despite trailing 34-24 going into the fourth quarter, the Hornets rallied to tie with 10 points in the final four minutes of the game. Todd Bryan, who kicked a fourth-quarter field goal to beat Benton in 2002, knocked through a 33-yarder with 1:10 remaining to tie it. Benton was penalized four times for 16 yards, Bryant five times for 45. Offensively, the Hornets, who amassed 525 yards of offense and quarterback Scott Peeler was 37-of-55 for 477 yards. Zach Cardinal shattered the single-game receptions mark with 16 catches for 176 yards, while Richie Wood piled up 189 yards on 10 catches. For Benton, quarterback Josh Langley laced a pass to Josh Curtis for a 25-yard pickup to the 1, then snuck it in from there to make it 34-24. After Bryant’s Josh McClellan recovered a midfield fumble, Peeler found Cardinal for the touchdown to make it 34-31.Bryant got the ball back Bryan came on to kick the tying field goal. Time ran out before the Panthers could get their field goal team on the field for what would’ve been a 45-yard attempt.

2004 -Todd Bryan kicked a 27-yard field goal to snap a scoreless tie. Then, just before halftime, moments after Bryant’s defense turned back another in a series of Benton threats, junior quarterback Anthony Mask and junior receiver Dustin Holland combined on a 46-yard touchdown pass, making it 10-0 at the half. Benton’s points came early in the fourth quarter. Bryant was facing a third-and-19 at its own 8 when a high snap sailed over Mask’s head and into the end zone. Mask, making his first varsity start, made a heady play by kicking the ball through the back of the end zone for a safety avoiding the chance that Benton might recover the loose ball for a touchdown. Mask, just before being pounded by the Benton rush, got a pass away to Holland who was on a crossing route at about the 35. He never broke stride as he caught the ball, picked up a block from Wood and sailed down the sideline for the game’s only touchdown with :43 left in the half. Bryant won 10-2.

2005 – Benton defeated Bryant 14-7. Nick Hendrix blocked a punt inside the Bryant 10 and Bryan Vick picked it up and scored what proved to be the winning touchdown as the Panthers ended a six-year drought against the Hornets, 14-7. Bryant cut the 14-0 lead to 14-7 on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Mask to Jon Isbell, but Benton’s quarterback Josh Langley rushed 24 times for 110 yards and a touchdown.

2006 – Over 22,000 fans showed up at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock for the annual Salt Bowl that the Hornets took 20-7. With a 20-0 lead, the Hornets had allowed Benton a net of 95 yards of offense and five first downs. The Panthers went on to drive for their only score in those final minutes Zac McCauley passed to Matt Fishburn for a 9-yard touchdown but, before that, they never got into inside the opponent’s 20. A bad snap on a Benton punt attempt led to the game’s first score. Bryant's Austin Bradley kicked a 30-yard field goal, then quarterback Logan Parker connected with Raylen Cantrell, who kept his focus on a pass tipped, for a 5-yard touchdown pass to make it 10-0. Matt Schrader added a 5-yard touchdown run and Bradley later added a 29-yard field goal.

2007 – Bryant's defense led by linebackers Jared Szabad, Ethan Passmore and Austin Humbard, along with a balanced offense sparked by junior running back Aspen Trevino who rushed 17 times for 102 yards and three touchdowns, quarterback Logan Parker and an offensive line that didn’t allow a sack beat Benton 25-7. The Bryant defense dropped Benton for losses on 12 plays for a total of just one rushing yard. The Panthers’ quarterback Zac McCauley was the leading rusher with 5 yards on 22 carries and completed 19 of 29 for 207 yards. He ran for Benton’s lone touchdown with 3:31 left in the game. The Hornets started when Trevino ran in for an 17-yard touchdown. Later Trevino ran in for an 8-yard score to make it 12-0. An interception return from Dijon Benton set up a 20-yard touchdown pass from Parker to Masters. Trevino capped the scoring with a 7-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

2008 – The Salt Bowl was marred by Hurricane Gustav, which doused a meager crowd with hard pelting rain and the Benton Panthers. Bryant rolled to a 36-12 victory in what was dubbed the Saltwater Bowl where 13 fumbles occurred. Benton had six fumbles and lost three to go with three interceptions. Bryant fumbled the ball seven times, but didn’t suffer a single turnover. Bryant's Chris Rycraw rushed for 130 yards on 19 carries including touchdown runs of 2, 4, 9 and 35 yards. And senior safety Dijon Benton made all three interceptions, including a 28-yard return for a touchdown. The Panther's scored on a 23-yard pass from Kody Hamlin to Austin Sams, then at the end of the game, Lee Richardson ran in from 2-yards out.

2009 – A record 26,300 fans watched Bryant dominate Benton 38-7 in the 10th annual Salt Bowl.When Chris Rycraw scored on an 11 yard touchdown, his third of the game, Bryant’s lead was 28-0 and coach Paul Calley started putting in the reserves. Hornets built a 38-0 halftime lead, piling up 314 yards of offense while limiting the Panthers to a net of 37 yards. Rycraw had a 47-yard touchdown run, a 43-yard touchdown run and had a 68-yard run to set up quarterback Jimi Easterling's 9-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Harris. Rycraw added an 11-yard score later in the second quarter. Ashton Roberts had a 1-yard touchdown for Benton's only score of the game.

2010 – ???

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