Hornets rip Patriots, keep share of league lead
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
The Bryant Hornets kept on course toward what could be a AAAAA-Central Conference championship and the top seed in the Class AAAAA State playoffs as they dismissed the downtrodden Little Rock Parkview Patriots 42-7 at Bryant Stadium on Friday, Oct. 22.
It wasn’t long after senior Jessica Norris was crowned Homecoming queen that the Hornets established the upper hand in the game.
(Line of the night: “It’s not every day that a member of the football team is named the Homecoming queen.” — a comment from Bryant defensive coordinator Steve Griffith, referring to the fact that Norris is a student trainer for the team.)
The Hornets’ offense moved the ball pretty much at will in the first half, building a 35-0 lead that engaged the so-called “mercy rule” in the second half in which the clock rolls almost uninterrupted the rest of the game.
Everybody played after senior linebacker Travis Queck intercepted a Parkview pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second half, making it 42-0.
The win improved the Hornets to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play, tied for first with Little Rock Central and Little Rock Catholic. With wins over Conway and North Little Rock, Bryant would claim at least a share of the league title and, depending on tiebreakers, could earn the league’s top seed in the playoffs, a spot that includes home-field advantage throughout the post-season.
But both Conway and North Little Rock are in contention for the playoffs as well, so the Hornets will have their work cut out for them.
There should be no more letdowns for the Hornets, however. Not only did they learn from their lone loss to Catholic earlier in the season, they also gained a lesson the week before Homecoming.
The Hornets got off to a similarly fast start against Little Rock Hall, building a 21-0 lead before the first quarter was over. But on their way to a fourth TD, Hall intercepted a pass and, for the rest of the half, the Hornets’ offense just kind of muddled through.
That didn’t sit well with head coach Paul Calley, who expressed his discontent at halftime.
This time, Calley needed no such presentation. The Hornet offense didn’t lose its focus.
“We executed offensively, better than the previous game,” Calley acknowledged. “We were kind of in the same situation, we had 21 points, drove the ball down and turned it over. But, instead of folding, we came back and scored two more times before halftime. That’s what I was looking for. I wanted to put a complete game together on offense and that’s what we did.”
Actually, it was a complete half. The reserves took over in the second half and only had the ball twice.
And the Hornets were on their way to a third shutout victory of the season until with 4:43 left to play, Patriots quarterback Chris Kimbrough got a pass through to receiver Reggie Clay that a Hornet defender just missed intercepting. But the commitment by the Bryant secondary left the field open for Clay to go all the way, completing a 73-yard touchdown play.
And it was a TD that meant something to the Patriots who hadn’t had one since their conference opener against Little Rock Hall on Sept. 24. The loss was their fourth in a row after they’d started the season 3-1.
The Hornets drove to an apparent touchdown on the first possession of the game. But a 21-yard pass from Anthony Mask to Richie Wood that produced the score was negated by a penalty. Mask, who was 15-of-29 for 197 yards in the half (and thus, the game), completed a 12-yard pass to Dustin Holland (six catches, 118 yards in the half/game) to get back to the 14 but three incompletions followed and Todd Bryan came on to attempt a field goal. The 32-yard kick was wide right, however.
Parkview managed one first down on the ensuing possession and punted the ball back to the Hornets. At first glance, the 26-yard kick would seem to be something less than the Patriots might’ve wanted but, in comparison to later efforts, it was great.
Still, the Hornets didn’t take long to get on the board. After running back Brandon Butler pounded out 9 yards, Mask and Holland connected on a 55-yard pass play that broke the ice. Bryan kicked it to 7-0.
Parkview went three-and-out, losing yardage back to its 14. And when the ensuing punt went just 4 yards, Bryant took over in the red zone. Two plays later, Butler scored from 4 yards out. Bryan made it 14-0.
Even then, Parkview hadn’t seen its worst punt of the night. That came early in the second quarter after Clay, the regular punter, had been stunned by a crushing tackle during the possession. His replacement, Jamaal Caffey, punted the ball straight up in the air and, when it came down, the Hornets actually gained yardage. The punt went for minus-4 yards, leaving the Hornets just 27 yards from another score.
That they did two plays later when Mask and Wood combined on a 21-yard TD pass. Bryan’s kick made it 21-0 with 9:31 left in the half.
Instead of punting at the end of their next possession, Parkview quick-kicked with quarterback Kimbrough. The 29-yard kick gave Bryant possession at its 32. With Mask hitting four of five passes and Zach Kellum adding an 18-yard run, the Hornets drove to the Parkview 21 where Clay made an interception at the goal line and returned it to the 8.
That merely delayed Bryant’s next score. Parkview couldn’t move the ball and another short punt was fielded by Holland at the Patriots’ 31. He returned it to the 7.
Though a holding penalty moved the Hornets back, Mask passed 13 yards to Wood and, a play later, connected with Holland on a 6-yard scoring play to make it 28-0 with 1:52 left in the half.
And the Hornets got the ball right back when Clay was separated from the football on the kickoff return. Landon Bullock recovered at the Parkview 16.
Mask’s pass to Wood reached the 5. From there, Kellum carried twice, scoring from the 1 with 47 seconds to go in the half, setting the 35-0 halftime score.
Parkview, which managed just 56 yards of offense in the first half just about doubled that in the third quarter, yet the Bryant reserves held on a fourth-and-10 at the Hornet 33.
The Hornets picked up a first down but wound up punting from the Parkview 45. Cody Williams’ first punt of the game was a beauty, downed at the 1.
But the Patriots moved the ball out to the 23 where, on a fourth-and-3, Kimbrough sneaked for a first down. The touchdown pass came on the next play.
The Hornets recovered an onside kick and turned the ball over on downs with 2:07 left. The Patriots’ final possession was foiled when Jeremy Porterfield and Jay Pruitt sacked Kimbrough for a loss of 15.