For more photos of this event by Rick Nation, go here
By Rob Patrick
CENTERTON — When the season started, senior Latavion Scott was sixth on the unofficial all-time yards rushing list for a career at Bryant High School with 1,571 yards. Just two games into the season (really, a little more than a game and a half), he has jumped into third place behind only Chris Rycraw (3,123 yards, 2007-09) and Matt White (2,839, 1999-2001).
Much like Rycraw, Scott can burn you with moves or power. He can run past you, around you or over you. And he often does so when someone tries to tackle him one-on-one. Give him a crease and he’s going to pick up 5 yards. Give him a gap and he may take it to the house.
With the Bentonville West Wolverines doing everything they could to slow down the Bryant Hornets’ passing game, and being effective doing it, Scott was the workhorse, dashing for 171 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown to help the offense do just enough in a 17-10 win on Friday night at Wolverine Stadium.
Scott now has 1,852 yards in his career, one yard more than Jackie Brown (1996-98).
Meanwhile, the Bryant defense limited the Wolverines to a net of just 28 yards rushing on 27 attempts. The Hornets dropped the Wolverines for losses on 12 plays including five sacks and held on at the end when West drove to the Bryant 16 in a bid to tie the game.
End Nate Wallace had two sacks with tackles Kajuan Robinson and Josh Salguerio along with linebacker Jake Wright getting one each.
“Latavion, he brings it every week,” stated Hornets head coach Buck James. “He has ever since he’s been here. And it’s different when you’re the hunted instead of being the hunter, and that guy’s being hunted every time he touches the football. Everybody knows they’ve got to stop him and he’s the only one back there who’s really carrying it. So, he has a tough job. He answers the call every time.”
Along with quarterback Ren Hefley’s 71 yards on the ground, the Hornets rushed for 260 yards while being limited to just 38 yards in the air. They did all their scoring in the first half.
The Wolverines, working out of a 3-4 defense, utilized their strength at linebacker to blitz from every angle, forcing Hefley out of the pocket. Though a handful of the runs were called, much of that yardage came on scrambles and escapes.
“I thought Ren did a good job,” James added. “There’s still several times he could’ve run, and he threw the ball. There’s times he didn’t get away when he probably should’ve broke a little earlier. But I think Ren’s getting better in that department and that’s what we’ve got to have if they’re going to do that to us.”
The coach was frustrated with the team’s struggles throwing the ball. Hefley was 12 of 26 with four of his completions, including his touchdown toss, going to Scott. There were some drops by the Hornet receivers.
“They just whipped us,” he said of the West secondary. “We couldn’t get past their d-backs. We don’t have big receivers and they physically manhandled us a little bit. We’ve got to do a better job of getting off our releases. We’ve just got to do a better job catching the balls we’re supposed to catch and throwing the balls we’re supposed to throw. If we can do that then we’ve got a chance to be pretty good with our running game.
“(Hefley) has got to throw the ball on time,” he added. “It’s going to be a small window, a small amount of time when they’re bringing six and seven and we’ve only got five blocking. That’s the way it’s going to be for any quarterback.”
The coach praised his front seven but acknowledged that the inexperienced secondary was still a work in progress.
“A win’s a win,” he stated. “I’m the kind of guy, you know, I like to win. And I know our kids do. But, it’s kind of like holding hands with your sister, you know? You love her and everything but that’s not what you went to the movie for.
“We’ve just got to do a better job of competing against ourselves. That’s what it is. The mentality, the discipline, doing our jobs to the best of our ability. We have guys, you (take) them out, then they come back and play really well. That tells me, it’s a mentality more than it is the ability factor.”
It appeared to be a dig-deep kind of game for Bentonville West. With their three-year starter at quarterback Will Jarrett on crutches with a thigh-high boot on his let, do-it-all SEC-recruit Jadon Jackson and top lineman Brandon Beesley in street clothes, they pulled it together with a sophomore quarterback, Dalton McDonald, and others like wide receiver Tucker Swoboda and running back Tyrese Smallwood playing all over the place.
Though the Wolverines were already 0-2 while being out-scored 100-71, the game was unexpectedly low scoring. Bryant led 17-7 at the half. West took advantage of the Hornets’ lone turnover of the game, a fumble on the third snap of the fourth quarter to drive from their own 34 to the Bryant 1.
Bryant’s defense made a stand and, needing 10 points to get even, the Wolverines settled for an 18-yard field goal by Blake McDoulett.
The game came down to the final 1:15 after the Hornets had been forced to punt. From their own 28, the Wolverines executed their last-minute offense. McDonald completed 5 of 9 passes along the way including a clutch fourth-down toss to Swoboda with :21.7 left to keep the drive alive at the Bryant 24.
A play later, on a throw down the seam, McDonald’s pass was tipped and linebacker Catrell Wallace, playing deep safety in the Hornets’ prevent defense, nearly made a spectacular diving interception. But it was ruled that the ball hit the turf as Wallace was bringing it in and the drive continued with :18 showing.
An 8-yard pass to Swoboda at the sideline got the ball to the 16, not enough for a first down. On fourth-and-2, McDonald found Chris Busch who went to the ground to catch the ball at the 11.
But, for just the third time in the game, the Wolverines were cited for a penalty. The holding call negated the play and, when the ball was spotted with :01.9 left, the clock was started, and West was unable to snap the ball for a fourth-and-18 play at the 32, time ran out.
The game was delayed by lightning for 30 minutes. James has said that the emphasis would be on a strong start to the game to try to eliminate the slow starts that had plagued the Hornets, who had been a second-half team.
And they began with an impressive 11-play, 80-yard march to take the lead. Scott converted an early third down with a three-yard pile-drive. Later, Hefley kept for 7 yards to convert a third-and-3. He then broke an 18-yard run.
Scott lashed for 16 yards and Ahmad Adams got 12 to the Wolverines’ 8 as the Hornets picked up chunks. A play later, Hefley swung a pass to Scott, who scored from the 7.
Grayson Scoles kicked the extra point.
Despite the a first-down penalty against the Hornets for being offsides, Bentonville West could not manage a first down and had to punt it back to Bryant.
From their own 20 again, the Hornets picked up a first down on consecutive runs by Scott. But they were knocked off schedule by a procedure penalty and wound up punting it back from their own 18.
There were only 10 penalties in the game, seven against Bryant, and most of them seemed to come at impactful times.
Another example came on the next Bentonville West possession. After a short punt, they were just 40 yards away from tying the game. They got to the Bryant 16, but the middle of the Hornets’ line dropped running back Tanner Anderson for a 2-yard loss then Wright sacked McDonald back at the 28. Facing a third-and-22, McDonald threw an incomplete pass only to be bailed out by a pass interference call.
That didn’t pick up a first down so, on a third-and-8 at the 14, McDonald used a hard count to draw Bryant offsides. So, from third-and- 22, two penalties turned it into a third-and 3 at the 9. McDonald’s swing pass to Smallwood got just enough for the first.
With a first-and-goal at the 5, the Wolverines struggled to get into the end zone. Another swing pass, this time from Swoboda, playing quarterback in the “Wildcat” to Smallwood, lost 3 yards. After Smallwood rushed for 5 yards to the 3, Swoboda kept for the touchdown and, with McDoulett’s extra point, the game was tied 7-7 with 1:16 left in the first quarter.
The teams exchanged punt and the Hornets took advantage of a 23-yard boot by McDoulett to gain possession at their own 41. Behind two runs from Scott and another by Adams, they reached the West 43. On a third-and-4, Scott ricocheted off tackles in the box and found his way into the secondary. He dashed to the end zone to put the Hornets ahead to stay.
The defense forced a three-and-out, and the Hornets added to the lead. Given strong field position by another short punt and a major penalty against the Wolverines, the Hornets drove from the West 23 to the 5. On a third-and-4 there, Hefley swung a pass to Scott who was overwhelmed and dropped for a loss at the 8.
Scoles, however, came on to drill a 25-yard field goal to make it 17-7 with 4:27 left in the half.
West’s next series was undermined by Robinson, who sacked McDonald for a loss of 12. Another short punt gave Bryant possession at its own 44. Hefley scrambled for 26 yards then 7 more to the 23. But his pass to River Gregory lost a yard then he was sacked by West linebacker Jonas Higson. A fourth-and-12 pass that would’ve gotten a first down was dropped and, with :52 left, West took over on downs.
The last-minute drill was squelched when cornerback Christian Cain drilled Smallwood to break up a first-down pass and the game went to the half.
The Wolverines made a bid to cut into the Bryant lead with a solid drive to start the second half. They converted a pair of third downs with pass completions by McDonald. But, from the Bryant 35, another third-down pass fell incomplete. McDoulett tried a 52-yard field goal but it was short and left.
The Hornets, in turn, picked up a first down rushing but then threw three passes that garnered no ground. They punted back to West, which drove to the Bryant 31 where Swoboda fumbled and Daylan Land recovered for Bryant.
Hefley got some rhythm going in the air on the subsequent drive. Amid his own runs and those of Scott, he had key completions to Jake Meaders, Gregory and Hayden Schrader. On a second-and-4 at the 22, Hefley connected with Schrader again, who broke free off the catch and dashed to the 1.
But a holding penalty negated the play. Pushed back to the 37, a play later, the Hornets loss possession. On a screen pass to Treyvun Herron, the Wolverines forced a fumble and defensive tackle Pono Doctorello recovered.
So, instead of a three-score lead, the Hornets were back on defense. A 27-yard completion from McDonald to Swoboda had a roughing-the-passer penalty tacked on as the Wolverines drove to the Bryant 10. Smallwood slashed to the 2 but the drive stalled there. Catrell Wallace downed Smallwood on a 1-yard game then Salguerio dropped Swoboda for no gain.
McDoulett kicked his field goal to make it 17-10 with 9:45 left to play.
After trading three-and-outs, a short punt gave West possession just 37 yards away from a tying score. But the Hornets turned them aside. A third-down pass break-up by Derek Rose in the back of the end zone capped the stand. McDoulett attempted a 39-yard field goal but it was wide left.
With 4:03 left, the Hornets appeared to be putting together a clinching drive, keyed by a rugged 17-yard burst by Scott. On the next play, however, a holding penalty pushed them back and, with 1:21 to go, the Hornets were forced to punt.
Austin Ledbetter booted the Wolverines back to their 28, setting up the final drive.
Next week, Bryant hosts the unbeaten Fayetteville Bulldogs, who will be coming off a bye. They Hornets defeated the Bulldogs twice last season, each by 1 point including an overtime game. No doubt, Fayetteville will be fired up for the rematch.