Freshmen make it 3-0 behind Powell, defense
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
There was an early indication of how things were going to go between the Bryant Hornets freshman team and the Conway White Junior Wampus Cats on Thursday, Sept. 18, at Bryant Stadium.
On their first offensive series, the Hornets were pinned back at the own 8. First, Jacob Powell broke a 21-yard gain to get them out of the hole. But a holding penalty negated the next play and a procedure penalty followed that to create a new one.
So, the Hornets faced a second-and-25 from their own 14. But any confidence or momentum the Junior Cats hoped to have gained from all that disappeared on the next play when Powell pounded 26 yards for a first down.
Powell would go on to rush for 122 yards on 23 carries and, with the Bryant defense shutting down Conway’s offense, the Hornets improved to 3-0 on the season with a 15-0 win.
Bryant begins play in the South Division of the Central Arkansas Conference on Thursday, Sept. 25, at Lake Hamilton, one of two other teams in the division that rolled through non-conference action unbeaten; an early showdown.
Against Conway White, Bryant’s defenders allowed just 35 yards of total offense to the Cats who managed only two first downs, one on the first possessions of each half. Conway never got closer to scoring than the Bryant 31, one of only two forays into Bryant territory.
The first time was early in the second quarter when Conway recovered a Bryant fumble at midfield. On the first play there, however, running back Edward Hays was dropped for a loss by Bryant’s Michael Angel, Parker Dunn and Casey Goforth. A second-down play was stopped for no gain by the Bryant interior line including Austin Dunahoo and Blue Smith, so they were still not in Bryant territory. Only after a third-down run for 4 yards to the Bryant 48 did they make it and then they had to punt on fourth down.
In turn, the Hornets drove 75 yards for the game’s first score. In a game in which both teams struggled in the passing game, the Hornets completed the only big pass when on the third-and-7 from the 28, quarterback Dylan Cross hit wideout Caleb Thomas on a tunnel screen that the speedy Thomas, with an escort of blockers, turned into a 54-yard pick-up to the Conway 18. From there, Powell helped get the Hornets to the 1 where Cross sneaked in for the touchdown.
And, on a trick play, the Hornets added a two-point conversion with Powell passing the Sawyer Nichols to make it 8-0.
The lead held until the half.
Conway reached Bryant territory a second time when, on the second play of the third quarter, Tyler Langley intercepted a Cross pass and returned it to the Bryant 41. An illegal block in the back along the way pushed the ball back to the Conway 46 but, on the next play, Hays dashed 16 yards, his team’s longest play from scrimmage in the game. A 7-yard pickup by Colin Fluesmeier reached the 31 but that’s as far as the Cats could get. After an incompletion, Angle and Dunn stopped a third-down run for a loss, forcing a punting situation.
Conway would get just two more possession in the game and both were interrupted by interceptions. The first by Angel was returned from the Conway 41 to the 9, setting up the Hornets’ second score. Two runs by Powell reached the 1 and, once again, Cross snuck it in from there. Jace Denker added the extra point and the final score was on the board with 3:44 left to play.
Conway’s subsequent possession, lasted two plays before linebacker Sam Stoops tipped a pass and intercepted at the Cats’ 38 with 2:35 left in the game. After he returned it to the 23, Powell had an 18-yard touchdown run negated by penalty but the Hornets were able to run out the clock
“At some point, we knew it was going to happen,” head coach Kenny Horn said of Powell’s performance. “He got it done. He was a determined runner tonight. At the same time, he doesn’t get it done without those guys up front. At halftime, I challenged those linemen. I got on ‘em pretty hard, challenged them to bow up and they did. We did our how-to’s and our who-to’s tonight and we executed. That’s what’s going to have to happen for us to win up front.
“We played very good defensively, minus one big play in the second half that got them down deep but we stood up right there,” added the coach. “Michael Angel hasn’t played all season long due to health problems. He just got back this week and we plugged him into a spot he hadn’t played and he comes up big for us. We had another big interception there at the end by Sam Stoops.
“Wow, it was a good game,” Horn concluded. “Once again, Coach (Dale) Jones, Coach (Kirk) Bock and Coach (Bart) Reynolds did a great job this week.”