Mustangs go to 3-0 with shutout effort
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).
By ROB PATRICK
SHERIDAN — Usually, on the first reference to a player in a story like this, it’s standard procedure to mention their position. You know, like Bryant Junior High Mustangs’ right tackle Brooks Sullivan or right guard Chance King, center Nate Roe or left guard Matt Clark or left tackle Justin Stephens.
But instead of running back Matt White, maybe we should change it to: Touchdown-maker Matt White.
The first two times White touched the football on plays from scrimmage in Thursday’s Central Arkansas Junior High Conference game against the Sheridan Stingers, he scored. Both were 59-yard touchdown runs. And, later, he added a 40-yard TD sprint on his way to 193 yards on 11 carries in Bryant’s 22-0 victory.
“He makes great runs,” commented Bryant head coach Scott Neathery. “But if you’ll notice, like (the coaches) are, our linemen are making big holes on those runs.”
Indeed, on both of the 59-yarders, not a single Stinger laid a hand on him.
“The good thing about him, with his speed, we make big holes but he’s good enough to outrun the safeties to a touchdown,” Neathery added. “And everyone’s going to talk about Matt White, but our linemen do a heck of a job. They’re physical up front and (the long runs are) as much our linemen as it is Matt.”
And add some credit to the Bryant defense which shut down a Sheridan offense that had run the ball well in victories over Stuttgart and Pulaski Academy the first two weeks of the season. But against the Mustangs, the Stingers struggled to get 72 yards on the ground and a total offense of just 90 yards. Sheridan managed just two first downs before a long drive in the fourth quarter against Bryant’s defensive reserves.
“We talked all week about being physical on defense,” Neathery noted. “I thought we could come out and be physical and stop them and we did. We just came up the field and played smash-mouth football.
And credit those reserves. In each of Bryant’s first two games, they came in late and allowed touchdowns that spoiled shutout efforts by the first-team defense. But against Sheridan, the second- and third-teamers, again playing against the other team’s first offense, stepped up and preserved the shutout with a stand inside their own 15 in the waning moments of the game.
“I was proud of them,” Neathery said. “They did a good job and we finally got that goose-egg.”
Sheridan earned just one first down in the first half. After Bryant forced the Stingers to punt on the first possession of the game, the Mustangs started out at their own 37. Quarterback Kevin Littleton scrambled for 4 yards then just underthrew Jonathan Jameson on a deep pattern down the left side. That set up a third-and-6 at the 41. On a toss sweep to the short side of the field, White scooted around right end and down the sideline for the first touchdown.
His run for two made it 8-0.
The defense forced another Sheridan punt, but the kick was short and Jameson had to sprint forward to attempt to field it. But he couldn’t haul it in on the run. The ball deflected off of him and Sheridan recovered at the Bryant 45.
On the very next play, however, the Mustangs stripped the ball out of the arms of Sheridan fullback Trent Stubbs and Cody Dreher recovered for Bryant at the 39.
Andy Summers picked up a couple of yards to the 41 then it was White’s turn again. He cut off the right tackle and broke into the clear for another 59-yard jaunt to paydirt.
This time, Matt Sullivan kicked the extra point and, with the end of the first quarter :50 away, the Mustangs led 15-0.
Once again, Sheridan was forced to punt and once again, the Mustangs were unable to handle it cleanly at the Sheridan 42. The Stingers recovered and, with a new set of downs, went to work again. A play later, Sheridan quarterback Stan Mosley lofted a pass down the left side to Matt Ritchie for 18 yards and the lone Stinger first down of the half.
On the next play, however, Bryant noseman Matt Clark crashed through and dropped Mosley for a loss of 4 and the Stingers were unable to recover. They eventually punted the ball away again with 1:04 left in the half.
The Mustangs put the finishing touches on their scoring on the first possession of the second half. Using up all but 1:14 of the third quarter, they marched 63 yards in 11 plays.
It took a four-down conversion to keep the drive alive on the first set of downs. (White picked up the necessary yard.) Then, the Mustangs had to overcome a clipping penalty that put them in a second-and-16 bind at their own 41.
But White dashed for 9 yards then Summers bulled for 10 and a first down. Two plays later, White was gone again, this time on a 40-yard scoring sprint. It was his 10th touchdown of the young season.
Sullivan kicked it to 22-0 and the final score was in place.
Sheridan managed a first down on its next try and had a third-and-2 at its own 41 when Bryant’s Zack Dickson dropped halfback Jay Rodgers for a 3-yard loss. A fourth-down pass was overthrown and the ball went back over to the Mustangs with 5:20 left in the game.
Neathery began to substitute after Jameson broke a 15-yard run. The Mustangs made it to the 16 then gave Sullivan a chance at a 32-yard field goal. The kick was short, but Sheridan was left with just 3:14 to mount a comeback.
With the help of a pair of 15-yard penalties, the Stingers were able to drive to the Bryant 14. But four plays from there netted nothing and the Mustangs regained possession with 1:04 left.
Matt Nugent provided one final highlight when he broke a 40-yard run to get the Mustangs out of the shadow of their own goalpost as they ran out the rest of the clock.
Now 3-0 overall and 2-0 in conference play, the Mustangs step out of league play this week to host Lake Hamilton, an old Big Eight Conference rival.