Hornets get well vs. Hall
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).
By ROB PATRICK
Just a few hours before the Bryant Hornets were set to take the field in their AAAAA-Central Conference game against the Little Rock Hall Warriors on Friday, Oct. 17, senior quarterback Scott Peeler was sitting in the locker room in pain. Banged up after getting sacked eight times and knocked down several other times by the Little Rock Central defense the previous Friday, Peeler had not practiced all week. The most worrisome of his aches was in his strained throwing shoulder. As he sat, he winced as he tried to lift his right arm over his head.
“I’ll be all right,” he insisted, “once the adrenaline gets going.”
Trainer Danny Brown arrived and after consulting with Peeler and head coach Paul Calley, ordered a bag of ice, placed it on Peeler’s shoulder and wrapped him up to keep it in place.
“I’m not sure how much Scott will be able to play,” Calley allowed.
“The best thing that could happen would be for you guys to score four or five times in the first quarter then you come to the sideline for the rest of the game,” Brown told Peeler.
As it turned out, the Hornets came up with just about what Dr. Brown ordered.
Bryant scored on each of its first five possessions of the game — it actually took a little more than a quarter — including a pair of touchdown passes by their sore-winged quarterback, led 31-0 at the half then cruised to a 40-8 victory to snap their two-game skid and keep them hot on the trail of a return to the Class AAAAA Playoffs.
Peeler played on each of those five scoring drives then retired for the night after completing a 12-yard touchdown pass to Zach Cardinal with 8:53 left in the first half.
Sore shoulder? Peeler completed 9 of 11 passes for 141 yards in his time on the field, no doubt easing the pain a bit.
“Adrenaline,” he said after the game, “is amazing.”
“We were worried about Scott,” Calley said. “We didn’t know how he was going to play. Bryan (Griffith) got a lot of work at quarterback all week and Anthony (Mask) too. But Scott came in and did a great job, said his arm felt good.”
The Hornets had the winless Warriors overmatched. But they added a twist to their offensive game to ratchet up the difficulty of Hall’s assignment. For the first time this season, the Hornets used an I-formation and an off-set I to try to rev up the running game and disguise their favorite plays.
“Sometimes people know where we want to go,” Calley explained. “We’ve been kind of predictable. We wanted to get away from most of the formations that we run, and run some different stuff — run the same plays out of it, but just give (the defense) a different look. I think it caught them by surprise. We didn’t come out in anything that we usually do. That helped.”
The Hornets produced 139 yards on the ground. David Lister picked up 49 yards on just five carries and Bo Lee added 43 on seven tries. Each scored a touchdown.
“If we get to where we can run the ball every week like we did tonight, it’s going to help our passing game out tremendously,” Calley noted.
And while the offense was lighting up the scoreboard building that 31-0 lead, the defense totally shackled the Warriors who managed just 35 yards of offense during that run, and almost half of that came on a single run of 16 yards by halfback Anthony Robinson.
The Hornets caused five turnovers in the game including first-half interceptions by Griffith and Hunter Nugent.
“I challenged the team a little bit before we came out,” Calley said. “We knew we had to get it done. The kids knew our backs are against the wall. They came out and did everything we asked them to do. They played hard. The defense flew to the football, got us the ball back. The offense moved the ball down the field. We got our running game going. Everything was just clicking.”
Oh, and to complete the domination, the Hornets’ Cory Caldwell blocked a punt, Travis Queck returned one 70 yards for a touchdown and Todd Bryan kicked field goals of 27 and 43 yards.
“Special teams have been big for us all year,” Calley noted. “That’s something we’ve got to continue. We’ve got to be able to win that phase of the game to be successful.
All in all, it was a pretty good homecoming.
Bryant’s first touchdown drive covered 63 yards in six plays. A 27-yard pass from Peeler to Cardinal got them in the red zone. Though a holding penalty pushed them back on the next play, Peeler and Cardinal teamed up again with a completion to the 13, the Peeler laced an aerial to Richie Wood for the TD. It was Wood’s only reception of the game, though like so many of the other starters, he didn’t play much after the first half.
“We didn’t get Richie the ball enough,” Calley insisted nonetheless. “We’ve got to get it to him more.”
Hall’s first possession went nowhere and Caldwell and Andrew Hughes broke through to block Mahasin “Mo” Parson-Cade’s punt. The Hornets took over at the 17 and had a holding penalty negate most of a good run by Blake Zuber. They got back to the 9, however, and Bryan came on to kick his first field goal of the game.
After forcing another Hall punt — this one got away but didn’t go very far — the Hornets drove 35 yards in five plays to paydirt again. Lee’s 17-yard run set up the score. He took it in from the 4 on the next play, making it 17-0.
Thanks to a face mask penalty then Robinson’s run, Hall managed its first two first downs on its next possession. The Warriors actually reached Bryant territory but the drive ended when Griffith made a sprawling interception at the 8.
A back-breaking touchdown drive resulted. The Hornets covered the 92 yards in eight plays. Lister’s 30-yard scamper was a highlight. Peeler completed passes of 15 and 25 yards to Cardinal and 17 yards to Griffith along the way. Lister did the honors from 3 yards out with 11:09 left in the half. Bryan kicked it to 24-0.
Nugent’s interception set up the next Bryant score. The Hornets safety picked off the pass at the Hall 35 and ran it back to the 8 but a clip on the return pushed the Hornets back to the 26.
No problem. Peeler scrambled for 14 yards then passed to Cardinal for the TD, finishing his night. Bryan’s PAT made it 31-0 with 8:53 still to play in the first half.
The defense continued to shackle the Warriors, who managed just two first downs the rest of the half, one of those coming by virtue of a penalty. Along the way, Mask recorded his first varsity completed pass, a 5-yard connection with junior Josh Rice.
The Hornets tacked on a pair of scores early in the second half. The first came on a scintillating punt return by Queck after the Hornets held Hall without a first down on the first series of the third quarter. The 70-yard sprint, with Bryan’s PAT tacked on made it 37-0 less than two minutes into the half.
The Hornets’ Travis Cockerham grounded the ensuing kickoff in hopes of avoiding a long return and Hall failed to cover the kick before the Hornets’ Brandon Butler claimed it at the Warriors’ 26.
Three plays later, Bryan blasted his 43-yard field goal with room to spare to complete the Hornets’ scoring in the game with just over seven minutes left in the third period.
Hall finally got on the board with 1:09 left in the third quarter. Dedrick Logan snared a 7-yard pass from sophomore quarterback James Richardson for the 6, capping a 64-yard drive that took 10 plays. Richardson’s 35-yard scramble set up the score. A completed pass from Brandon Winston to Robinson provided a two-point conversion and the final score was set.
Hall threatened again in the fourth quarter but Spencer Barksdale recovered a Warriors’ fumble at the Bryant 6 to foil the bid.