Win propels Bryant into first-place showdown
By ROB PATRICK
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).
CONWAY — Coming on the heels of consecutive victories over previously unbeaten teams and a first-place showdown against a Sheridan squad that’s on a six-game winning streak, a game against the winless Conway Blue Wampus Kittens on Thursday, didn’t figure to exactly inspire a lot of intensity in the Bryant Hornets freshman team.
But, after giving up almost 300 yards on the ground the week before while surviving with a 14-13 win over Conway White, the Hornets defense had something to prove, against anybody.
Conway White managed just 27 yards rushing and only 95 yards of total offense and the Hornets overcame three turnovers to capture a 10-3 win on a cold, damp night on the chopped up field at John McConnel Stadium.
“The defense had a great game,” said Bryant head coach Jason Hay. “The showed up ready to play. We took a look back and corrected some things (in practice) and they played a lot better this week.
“We didn’t really do anything difference as far as the scheme goes,” he explained. “We just kind of took it a little bit more personal this week. It was just more of an attitude thing more than anything. We didn’t play terrible (against Conway White) but we weren’t wrapping up, weren’t making tackles and flying to the football. This week, we had people closing holes and getting where they need to be.”
The difference in the score proved to be a Logan connection, a 6-yard touchdown pass from Logan Parker to Logan Cruse with 2:26 left to play in the third quarter which, at the time, game the Hornets a 10-0 lead.
“We drove it down the field several times in the first half,” Hay noted. “I think we threw a pick one time, then a fumble. We had some missed blocks, some dropped passes, some over-thrown passes. We just didn’t execute. We didn’t have all 11 doing the same thing every play. And that’s pretty uncharacteristic of them in the last few games.
“The kids were focused on Sheridan,” he allowed. “We tried hard all week to really focus on Conway Blue, to take them one game at a time but it’s tough for them. We got it done, though. Bottom line, we got a W.”
The winner of the Bryant-Sheridan game will clinch at least a tie for the championship of the South Division of the Central Arkansas Conference. Bryant will finish the regular season on Thursday, Oct. 28, at Benton. Sheridan hosts a third-place Lake Hamilton.
As Hay mentioned, the Hornets moved the ball on offense. Their first drive to open the game started at their own 29 and reached the Conway 29 before stalling out.
In turn, the Wampus Kittens netted lost yardage in three plays and punted.
The Hornets took over at midfield and behind the running of Nick Suggs, who finished with 101 yards on 18 carries in the game, reached the Blue 26. But, on a third down play, Conway’s Ammon Martin intercepted a pass.
But Blue was unable to pick up a first down and had to punt again.
The two teams then exchanged fumbles with the Hornets winding up with the ball at the Conway 40 after Craig Tull’s recovery for Bryant. Jake Jackson’s 12-yard reverse run and Tull’s 21-yard burst helped the Hornets reach the 5. On a fourth-and-goal, Jordan Knight came through with a 22-yard field goal to give the Hornets the lead.
The Kittens put together a couple of first downs thanks to completions of 27 and 12 yards by quarterback Landon McCoy but, on a first-and-10 at the Bryant 13, McCoy’s pass to the end zone was intercepted by Cruse with :26 left in the half.
In the second half, the Bryant defense stuffed the Kittens again and forced a punt. Spence Jones, Nick Chapdelaine, and Wesley Walters each made stops for losses and Cruse knocked down a pass.
This time, the Hornets turned their good field position into 6 points. Parker completed back-to-back 19-yard passes to Jackson and Knight. A play later, Taylor Masters made a fine leaping catch for 11 more yards to the 18.
A sliding catch by Cruse at the 9 set up a third-and-1. Parker snuck for the first down and, on the next play, hit Cruse for the touchdown.
Conway drove from its 37 to the Bryant 36 but, after a pair of penalties moved the Kittens back, Nathan Probst and Raylen Cantrell each made stops for lost yardage to put them in an even deeper hole.
But the Kittens got a break when the ensuing punt was muffed. Conway recovered at the 21 with 6:29 to play.
Again, however, the defense stepped up. Walters dropped wingback Lester Robertson for a loss. After another motion penalty, McCoy completed an 18-yard pass to Larnell Thompson. From the 9, however, the Kittens could get no closer than the 5 on three plays.
On fourth down, despite a high snap, McCoy kicked a 24 yard field goal to get Conway on the board.
Moments later, Tull not only recovered Blue’s onside kick, he returned it to the Conway 38. After a penalty, Suggs pounded for 10 yards to set up a third-and-5 with just over two minutes still to play. The Hornets then crossed up the Kittens and went to the air for another Logan connection at the 20. With a new set of downs, Bryant was able to milk the rest of the clock to secure the win.