Jr. Hornets ground down Wolves
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
PEARCY — Two teams in a serious search for a win squared off at Lake Hamilton on Thursday, Oct. 2, in the first round of divisional play in the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference.
The Bryant Junior Hornets and the Lady Hamilton Junior Wolves each sported 1-3 records in pre-divisional action and both played like teams with new life on Thursday. But the Junior Hornets came through with a season-high scoring outburst and claimed a 29-18 victory.
Bryant came into the game after suffering narrow defeats at the hands of a pair of undefeated teams from the North Division of the CAJHC. So, the fresh start of divisional play proved to be a lift.
“We told the kids that we had two tough losses but, as far as I was concerned, we were 0-0,” commented head coach Jason Hay. “What matters right now is conference and there’s no reason why, if we can play teams like Morrilton and Vilonia — two of the best in the conference, I would think — if we can play them as close as we did there’s no reason we can’t play on our side (South Division).
“I don’t know if it was a must-win but it sure helped,” he added. “In a (division) like ours where everybody’s about the same, I think every win is going to be important. Every year it comes down to the last game, it seems like. So I’m just happy to get a win. We still made a lot of errors that we need to correct, but, hey, it’s a ‘W’.”
The Hornets amassed 353 yards of offense including a season-high 221 on the ground led by Dustin Seljan’s 93 yards on 15 carries. Leading 7-6 at the half, Bryant, which usually utilizes a pass-oriented spread offense, came out to start the third quarter in an unbalanced line with two tight end and a power-I formation in the backfield, muscling for a touchdown drive that ate up five minutes of the third quarter and covered 88 yards in 13 plays. Seljan picked up much of the yardage as the I-back.
And the Hornets overcame a pair of penalties along the way. Seljan had a tackle-breaking run of 12 yards mostly negated by a holding penalty that would’ve reached the Lake Hamilton 9. On the next play, another 12-yard blast was negated by a motion penalty. But a play later, quarterback Tyler Pickett faked to Seljan and boot-legged for 18 yards to the 1. He snuck in from there on the next play to increase the lead.
The Hornets were penalized 12 times for 92 yards in the game and even had one on the ensuing extra point try. But Pickett converted with a pass to Cody Williams, making it 15-6.
“We ran the ball more, we moved some people around again,” Hay noted. “We have three of our key players that are hurt right now. We decided to run the ball a little bit more in the game and I think it helped. Seljan had a really good game. Pickett and (Chris) Lawrence had a really good game.
“We had some guys that, really, I’ve been waiting on to do what they did in this game,” added the coach. “I knew Pickett could do it but Lawrence and Seljan really came on and made some cuts and were dragging some people. I think that’s what you’ve got to have. We had a guy, Wade Neal, that has played offensive line but because of (Ryan) Wilson getting hurt, we needed a linebacker and Wade stepped in there and did a pretty good job for his first game there. He was really sticking his nose up in the holes and clogging it up.”
Lake Hamilton countered Bryant’s scoring drive with a kickoff return by Aaron Mann that reached the Bryant 2. It took three plays from there, but the Junior Wolves scored on a 3-yard run by Mann to cut into the lead. A try for two was foiled by the Hornets, however, and the lead was 15-12.
It didn’t take long for Bryant to answer. Lawrence made a strong return of the ensuing kickoff but a holding penalty pushed the Hornets back to their own 31. Two plays later, though, Pickett rolled right and threw back to Williams on the left side. The screen pass broke big and Williams laced his way to the 18. A roughing the passer penalty was tacked on and, on the next play, Lawrence made a determined run to paydirt from 9 yards out.
A two-point try failed but Bryant led 21-12.
But Lake Hamilton wouldn’t go away. A 51-yard touchdown run by Derek Herndon on the second play of the fourth quarter, cut the margin to 21-18.
On cue, however, Bryant took its turn and put the clinching points on the board with a 75-yard drive that wound up covering 88 yards thanks to a penalty that pushed the Hornets back to their own 12.
From there, Pickett hit Lawrence for a 38-yard completion to midfield. Pickett was sacked on the next play but came back with an 18-yard strike to Ben Smith for a new set of downs at the Lake Hamilton 39. A 12-yard scramble by Pickett was followed up by an 18-yard burst by Lawrence on a wingback reverse. From the 9, Seljan powered in the for the score. He then added a run for 2 that set the final score.
Neither team punted in the game. In the first half, Lake Hamilton had two drives into Bryant territory turned back on downs. After the opening march to the Bryant 20, the Hornets took over and drove for their first score. The yardage came in chunks. A screen pass to Williams picked up 15 then Seljan blasted for 14. Later, Pickett kept for 16 yards, Williams sprung a trap for 15 then Lawrence dashed for 12 to reach the 9.
Shades of things to come: A penalty pushed them back to the 14 but the Hornets overcame it. Pickett passed to Seljan to get 8 yards back then kept for the final 6. Lucas Nossman’s extra point make it 7-0.
In turn, Lake Hamilton drove to the Bryant 29 but, on third down, Jordan Mountjoy burst through to drop Mann for a loss. A fourth-down pass fell incomplete and Bryant took over.
The Hornets’ lone turnover occurred a play later, however, and given a second chance, the Wolves took advantage for third first score, despite tackles for losses by Dale Finney and Neal along the way. Herndon scored from the 8. On the two-point try, however, Hunter Stobaugh intercepted to preserve Bryant’s lead which held until the half.
The Hornets were set to return to action at home on Thursday, Oct. 9, against Conway White.