Salt Bowl XI marred by confrontation, ejections

By Rob Patrick

LITTLE ROCK — It figures that the 11th Salt Bowl game between the Bryant Hornets and the Benton Panthers will be remembered most for a fight.

It was unfortunate.

But then, most fights are.

And while there may be plenty of folks in Benton ready to blame Bryant and just as many folks in Bryant ready to blame Benton, there was enough responsibility to go around for both.[more]

A full description and the origins of the encounter will also be in the eye of the beholder. It escalated pretty quickly on more than one front so it may take a look at the video to get a complete rendering.

Regardless, the Hornets continued their recent domination of the obviously frustrated Panthers with a 45-9 victory.

The Hornets led 25-2 and had the ball at their own 29 when senior quarterback Blake Davidson completed a 6-yard pass on the sideline to tight end Cody Elmore. Back behind the play, a Bryant lineman and a Benton lineman were scuffling on the ground.

“I saw the end of the play,” said Hornets coach Paul Calley. “The referees said there were two guys that were kind of chicken fighting and they did not try to stop that because it wasn’t a fight. It escalated into a fight.

“Honestly, I was going to let them stop it but (Benton’s) bench was clearing,” he continued. “So I knew if I didn’t get out there and try to head some of it off then our bench was going to clear too. And that’s not what I wanted.”

Once order was restored, the officials called both Calley and Benton head coach Scott Neathery to the middle of the field.

“They said we have two people on each team that we know threw punches,” Calley related. “They’re going to be ejected and any other mouthing or anything else that goes on, they’re going to be subjected to the same punishment. We want it stopped.”

Ironically, on the previous play, a Benton punt, one of the officials told Calley, “He said there was some mouthing going on out there. He was worried about it and thought it was going to escalate. And it was the very next play.

“We talked about it all week,” the coach mentioned. “We talked about not running our mouth. I’m disappointed because apparently it was some of my guys that were running their mouth. I’m disappointed in those guys. That’s not the way we do things. It’s not classy and we’re going to get that taken care of.”

When play resumed, Davidson completed another pass to Elmore for 22 yards but a fumble cost Bryant possession and further fired up the Panthers. But, as was the case most of the game, the Benton offense was unable to do much to build on that emotion.

In fact, on consecutive plays during the next series, Bryant’s James Kidd and Josh Hampton combined on sacks of Benton quarterback Grant Jones.

By halftime, Bryant led 31-2 and all of the mystery — and admittedly a lot of the joy — about the ultimate result had gone out of the game.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!