By Rob Patrick
Despite wet footballs and muddy hands on a sloppy track, the Bryant Hornets’ freshman team made the most of a few passes against the Sheridan Stingers on Thursday at the quagmire that is the Bryant Stadium field.
Hayden Lessenberry threw just four passes for the Hornets but three of them went for touchdowns and the other set up a fourth in a 35-15 victory over the Stingers.
It was the fifth time in six wins this season that Bryant has surpassed the 30-point mark. To go with their 6-2 overall record, the Hornets improved to 3-2 in the South Division of the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference going into their final road game at Cabot South on Thursday, Oct. 29.
On the third play of the game against Sheridan, Lessenberry connected with Marcus Wilson on a 50-yard touchdown pass and the Hornets were ahead to stay. Josh Lowery added the extra point.
Sheridan got off to rugged start when a reverse on the first play was sniffed out by Hunter Schelle. Nathan Wadley was dropped for a loss of 12. A play later, Ian Shuttleworth, Daniel Richards and Tim Kelly stopped Wyatt Daggett for a loss of 2 and the Stingers were forced to punt.
The short kick left the Hornets 33 yards from another score.
After Lessenberry was tackled for a loss back to the 39 on first down, the Hornes worked it back to the 29 where, on a fourth-down pass, Lessenberry connected with Devon Sears on a post pattern for the second TD.
After a penalty on the extra-point attempt, the Hornets tried a two-point conversion and Lessenberry snuck it in to make it 15-0 with 1:57 still left in the first quarter.
In turn, the Stingers drove to the Bryant 15 where, on first down Shuttleworth knifed through and hauled down Wadley for a loss. A play later, it was Richards who dropped quarterback Dylan Flores for a 3-yard setback.
The Stingers went for it on fourth down only to have Stoney Stevens knock down Dylan Flores' pass at the goal line.
Bryant took over on downs but, on the first play, Lessenberry couldn’t handle the slick football on the snap and Wadley recovered for the Stingers.
On the next play, Daggett crashed 16 yards for a touchdown that, with a Flores pass to Karson Keedy, made it 15-8.
But Bryant’s offense went right back to work to extend the margin. Jalen Bell, who rushed 10 times for 82 yards and a touchdown, contributed runs of 8, 10 and 23 yards before Lessenberry rolled out right and found Hayden Daniel open for a 14-yard TD strike that, with Lowery’s extra point, made it 22-8.
After a kickoff that rolled out of bounds, Sheridan took over at its 35. But, on the first play, Hayden Stewart tracked down Wadley deep in the backfield. When he slung him down, the football came loose and Bryant’s Austin Powell scooped it up and scored to make it 28-8 with 2:02 left in the half.
An extra point attempt was foiled by a bad snap. Powell, who holds for Lowery’s kicks, scrambled but was brought down short of the goal-line.
Sheridan, aided by a personal foul penalty and an offsides, moved the ball to the Bryant 40 as time was running out in the first half. But, on a first-down play from there, Flores’ pass was tipped then intercepted by Shuttleworth, the first of his two picks in the game.
To start the second half, the Hornets covered the kick so well that Colin Battaglia and Schelle pulled down Daggett at the 8. The Stingers wound up punting from their own 10 and a short kick gave Bryant the ball again at the Sheridan 38.
On first down, Lessenberry fired his final pass of the game. Wilson hauled it in inside the 5 and was hauled down at the 3. But, front there, Jalen Bell scored.
Lowery’s PAT made it 35-8.
Shuttleworth ended Sheridan’s subsequent possession with his second interception and Bryant head coach Kenny Horn brought on the reserves.
Sheridan scored another TD late. After Kane Fitzgerald recovered a Bryant fumble at the Hornets’ 35, the Stingers drove the ball featuring a 26-yard run by Wadley and a 25-yard gallop by Daggett.
The Stingers reached the 3 but, on a third-and-1, Flores was stopped as he tried to reach the corner. Bryant’s Lane Ricardo made a nice tackle on the play.
That brought up a fourth-and-3 from the 5. Flores’ pass to Keedy not only got the first down, it scored. Micah Parker booted the extra point and, with 1:06 left to play, the final score was on the board.
BRYANT 35, SHERIDAN 15
Score by quarters
Sheridan 0 8 0 7 — 15
BRYANT 15 13 7 0 — 35
BRYANT — Wilson 50 pass from Lessenberry (Lowery kick), 6:53
BRYANT — Sears 29 pass from Lessenberry (Lessenberry run), 1:57
SHERIDAN — Daggett 16 run (Keedy pass from Flores), 5:10
BRYANT — Daniel 14 pass from Lessenberry (Lowery kick), 2:13
BRYANT — Powell 18 fumble return (run failed), 2:02
BRYANT — J.Bell 3 run (Lowery kick), 5:29
SHERIDAN — Keedy 5 pass from Flores (Parker kick), 1:06
First downs 8 9
Rushing-yds 24-81 23-81
Passing 4-12-2 4-5-0
Passing-yds 38 128
Punts-avg. 3-25.0 1-38.0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 4-2
Penalties-yds 10-75 7-45
Rushing: BRYANT, J.Bell 10-82, Huckaby 7-21, Howard 1-(-4), Lessenberry 3-(-9), Cambron 2-(-9); SHERIDAN, Daggett 11-91, Wadley 10-0, Mote 1-(-3), Flores 3-(-7).
Passing (C-A-I-Y): BRYANT, Lessenberry 4-4-0-128, Cambron 0-1-0-0; SHERIDAN, Flores 4-11-2-38; Mote 0-1-0-0.
Receiving: BRYANT, Wilson 2-85, Sears 1-29, Daniel 1-14; SHERIDAN, Wadley 3-33, Keedy 1-5.