Photos by Kevin Nagle
The Bryant White Hornets eighth grade football team of Bryant Middle School turned three second-half turnovers into touchdowns including a 55-yard fumble return by Blaise Smith as they busted open a 14-0 game at halftime against the Lakewood Cougars of North Little Rock on Thursday night. The result was a 36-0 lead and, eventually, a 36-6 victory as they improved to 3-1 on the season going into their next game at home against Conway Blue next Thursday.
It was the third consecutive win by the Hornets after a season-opening setback against Cabot South.
Quarterback Jesse Windemaker threw two touchdown passes to Logan Grant in the victory. Grant Botti and Jake Wright added TD runs.
The Hornets defense limited Lakewood to just 38 yards of total offense in the first half. That came after the offense took the opening kickoff and drove 60 yards on nine running plays. Botti contributed runs of 13 and 11 yards and Windemaker kept for runs of 10 and 11 yards along the way. Josh Salguerio, a defensive tackle, got his first appearance at fullback as the Hornets got into scoring range. Not only did he block well, he got a chance to run the ball and picked up 5 yards to the 3. On the next play, Botti broke off left tackle for the touchdown.
Lakewood picked up its only two first downs of the opening half on its subsequent possession. The Cougars drove to the Bryant 37 but Salguerio held a second-down run by Dewayne Hunt to a yard and, on third down, Grant stopped quarterback Drew Martin for a loss.
Lakewood went for it on fourth down but Martin’s pass fell incomplete.
The Hornets countered with a drive to the Lakewood 2. But a procedure penalty proved too much to overcome. They got back to the 4 and when Windemaker’s fourth-down pass was caught by Grant beyond the back of the end zone, the Cougars took over on downs with 1:17 left in the half.
The defense (and Lakewood) gave the offense another chance, moments later.
Inexplicably, the Cougars ran a play then called timeout. Brady Newman and Eric Talbert had stopped Martin cold. Bryant White then used its last two timeouts on the next two plays, which were also stifled by the Hornets, forcing a fourth-and-7 from the 7 with about a minute left.
The Cougars punted. It was short and Botti caught it on the run, returning to the 16 with :41.4 showing. Windemaker’s first pass fell incomplete but his second was hauled in by Grant for a big touchdown with just 20 seconds left in the half. Windemaker ran in the conversion and it was 14-0 at the intermission.
Lakewood got the ball to start the second half but soon found itself facing a third-and-4 at the Bryant 45. Alex Cauley tried to keep off the right side and was stood up. Smith reached in and ripped the ball out of the quarterback’s hands and took off to the other end with an escort of his fellow defenders.
The Cougars could not run him down and he rumbled all the way to paydirt. Windemaker’s successful two-point conversion run made it 22-0.
The fired up defense dropped Lakewood for losses on the first two plays of the subsequent possession. Parker Littleton stopped Martin for a loss of 2 then Salguerio dropped Hunt for a loss of 5.
On a third-and-17 from their own 32, the Cougars went to the air only to have Bryant White’s Clift Chaffin come down with it, returning to the Lakewood 33.
Windemaker quickly found Andrew Hayes for 24 yards. From the 12, he and Grant hooked up again for the 6. Botti added the two-point conversion to make it 28-0 with 3:44 left in the third quarter.
As Hornets head coach Brad Smothermon started working in reserves, Lakewood made a bid to score, driving from its own 31 to the Bryant 26. The Cougars went to the end zone from there but Martin’s pass was intercepted at the goal line by Brandon Jett.
The ball was brought out to the 20 and the Hornets quickly added a final TD, covering the 80 yards in four plays. Botti’s 32-yard gallop set up Wright’s 23 yard scoring run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Wright did the honors on the conversion as well to make it 36-0.
Lakewood used most of the rest of the clock driving for its touchdown, covering 61 yards in nine plays, capped by Martin’s 15-yard run.
The conversion attempt, a run by Martin, Xavion Jackson and Tyler Thompson converged to keep him out of the end zone.
Lakewood’s onside kick was covered by the Hornets’ Ryan Lessenberry at the Bryant 43. Jacob Birch broke a 36-yard run and, after the next play, time ran out.
BRYANT WHITE 36, NORTH LITTLE ROCK LAKEWOOD 6
Score by quarters
Lakewood 0 0 0 6 — 6
Bryant White 6 8 14 8 — 36
BRYANT WHITE — Botti 3 run (run failed), 3:04
BRYANT WHITE — Grant 16 pass from Windemaker (Windemaker run), 0:20
BRYANT WHITE — Smith 55 fumble return (Windemaker run), 6:05
BRYANT WHITE — Grant 12 pass from Windemaker (Botti run), 3:44
BRYANT WHITE — Wright 23 run (Wright run), 6:52
LAKEWOOD — Martin 15 run (run failed), 1:40
First downs 15 8
Rushes-yds 23-234 30-149
Passing 3-6-0 0-4-2
Passing yds 52 0
Punts-avg. 0-00.0 1-22.0
Fumbles-lost 2-0 4-1
Penalties-yds 3-15 1-10
Rushing: BRYANT WHITE, Windemaker 9-90, Botti 8-76, Wright 3-37, Birch 1-36, Salguerio 1-5, Lessenberry 1-(-10); LAKEWOOD, Martin 16-98, Hunt 8-39, Cauley 2-6, Johnson 1-5, Finch 2-3, Yancy 1-(-2).
Passing (C-A-I-Y): BRYANT WHITE, Windemaker 3-6-0-52; LAKEWOOD, Martin 0-3-1-0, Cauley 0-1-1-0.
Receiving: BRYANT WHITE, Grant 2-28, Hayes 1-24.