Junior Hornets pound Benton, to play for title
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).
With 4:39 left to play and the “mercy” rule engaged for the fourth time in eight wins this season, the Bryant Hornets freshman defense had produced more yardage lost than the Benton Warriors had gained.
In 29 plays to that point, the Warriors had a net of minus-7 yards total offense.
Benton put together a late drive against the Hornets’ second team defense but never got on the board. That’s because Bryant forced a turnover at its 21 and recovered to close out their 36-0 victory over their rivals, claiming the undisputed championship of the South Division of the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference.
They were set to travel to Greenbrier on Tuesday, Oct. 30, to play an unbeaten Junior Panthers team for the championship of the league.
“Even I hate to admit it as an offensive coach,” quipped Hornets head coach Jason Hay, “but defense wins championships and our defense has done good.”
It was the team’s fourth shutout this season. They’ve only allowed 14 points in the first three quarters all season. With reserves closing out several games, they still have only allowed an average of less than 5 points and 120 yards of total offense per contest.
They’ll take that and an 8-0-1 record overall, 7-0 in South Division play, into the title game.
It was also the fourth year in a row that the Hornets have defeated the Warriors and the sixth time in eight years.
“Benton played us tough in the first half,” Hay stated. You’ve got to give Coach (Jon) George and those kids credit. They’ve had a lot of close games. They could very well be 7-2 or 6-3. They came out and gave us all we wanted the first half.”
Still, the Hornets led 13-0 at the break despite a pair of turnovers. The first interception ended Bryant’s opening possession at the Benton 24.
The Warriors, in turn, could get nowhere and when punter Grant Jones didn’t handle a snap cleanly, plus the fact that Benton punters take a very short drop, the Hornets dropped him for a loss before he could get the kick away.
From the Benton 15, the Warriors blitzed and got a sack of quarterback Blake Davidson. On the next play, Benton went for it again only to have the Hornets work a screen pass from Davidson to running back Dylan Pritchett, who turned it into a 25-yard touchdown, the first of his four in the game.
“They were sending the house and we knew it,” Hay said. “That was the game plan. We knew they were going to try and come get us. So, when they’re sending everybody and they’re manned up, the back coming from the backfield is free. Blake made a good read, Dylan made an even better catch and run.”
Pritchett caught two passes in the game of 38 yards and rushed 15 times for 146 yards and his other three scores. He has now scored 19 touchdowns this season, two short of the team record of 21 set by Aspen Trevino in 2005. Pritchett has 18 TDs on the ground. Trevino had 20.
Davidson wound up 6 of 12 passing with a pair of interceptions. He struggled early setting up without slipping on the rain-soaked turf at Bryant Stadium.
“We’ve been lacking a little bit throwing and catching,” Hay noted. “It’s been a real bad week as far as practice because of the rain. It’s been miserable. We’ve been going out there and the ball’s a little slick.”
Benton appeared to have gotten just the third first half touchdown of the season against the Hornets late in the first quarter when Jones hit a fade route to Ashton Roberts for 48 yards and a score. But the play was called back because of a holding penalty.
The Warriors wound up punting back to the Hornets but, in turn, Bryant was unable to pick up a first down.
Benton then got a big break when a high snap sent punter Tanner Tolbert back to the goal line. He was able to get the ball our of the end zone but Benton’s John Beck recovered at the 5.
But the Bryant defense came up big. Two rushes gained just 2 yards. Jones then dropped back to pass and wasn’t even able to set up before Bryant linebacker Jordan Moore was there to drop him for a loss to the 10. A fourth-down pass into the end zone was knocked away by cornerback James Glasper and the Hornets took over on downs.
The offense responded with a 90-yard drive in just seven plays to increase the lead. Pritchett contributed dashes for 15 and 16 yards along the way. Davidson hit Hunter Mayall for 9 to the 48 and, two plays later, on a fourth-and-1, Pritchett bashed into the pile, spun out of the tangle and sprinted to his second TD.
A slip on the hold for the extra point sabotaged the kick so Bryant led 13-0.
A sack by Josh Hampton foiled Benton’s last series of the half.
The Warriors’ production didn’t improve in the second half. Their first two plays lost yardage, the first on a nice play by Austin Johnson, Holden Chavis and others. Pushed back to the 16, the Warriors then picked up a pair of procedure penalties as they tried to get a jump on protecting against a blocked punt.
From the 6, Jones just barely got a kick away and the Hornets took over at the Benton 36. But an interception of a deep pass by Benton’s Josh Martins kept it 13-0 for the time being.
But the Warriors wound up having to punt from their own end zone again. Given a second shot from Benton’s 35, the Hornets found paydirt again with Pritchett doing most of the damage. Wide receiver Caleb Garrett’s 14 yard run on a reverse helped. Pritchett eventually barreled into the end zone from 11 yards out.
After Davidson passed to Hampton for the two-point conversion, Bryant led 21-0.
And it didn’t stay that way long. Benton got nothing in three plays after the kickoff and Jones made his short drop to punt. This time, however, the Hornets got the block. Will Suddeth knocked it down and Jacob Brady scooped and scored.
Pritchett added the two-point conversion and it was 29-0 going into the fourth quarter.
Again, Benton lost yardage on two of its three plays as the Bryant defensive line refused to be blocked. A hurried punt covered just 11 yards and the Hornets got it back at the Benton 28.
Despite a holding penalty that pushed them back, the Hornets drove for a final score. Pritchett dashed for 10, 17 and 4 yards to set up his 6-yard touchdown run.
And despite a delay penalty that moved the kick back, Bo Stitch was able to knock through the extra point to set the final score.
“I guess we’ve turned into a kind of a second-half team lately,” Hay said. “The defense did what they always do and we started rolling (on offense). We won the game, bottom line. I guess we’re not always going to be 35-0 at the half but I think that’s what these kids expect almost.”