Mustangs clamp down on Eagles
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
VILONIA — When the Bryant Junior High Mustangs coaches pulled their starters on defense with 6:43 left in their game with the Vilonia Eagles, the total offense for the Eagles was in the red. To be exact, Vilonia had netted a minus-5 yards of offense. Bryant led 28-0 at that point on the way to a 28-6 lead that improved the Mustangs to 3-0 on the season going into their game with Morrilton on Thursday, Sept. 26.
On a soggy field, the Junior Eagles fumbled a whopping 13 times, losing four of them as the Mustangs completely stifled their offense.
Bryant’s offense put Vilonia’s run-oriented attack under the gun in no time, scoring two quick touchdowns for the second week in a row. On the second play of the game, quarterback Anthony Mask hit wideout Dustin Holland with a pass that broke for a 62-yard touchdown.
The duo teamed up on a two-point conversion pass as well, to make it 8-0.
Vilonia’s first possession was an early demonstration of how dominant Bryant’s defense would be. On first down, the Junior Eagles picked up five yards thanks to a penalty. On second down, Seth Wright managed a 3-yard run to set up second-and-two at the Vilonia 46.
Vilonia would not get a first down. Fullback Jeremy Davis was gang-tackled for a loss of a yard on second down, then Kyle Smith fumbled and was fortunate to get back to the line of scrimmage.
The Eagles then tried a fake punt with up-back Wright taking the snap. But he fumbled and was buried for a 3-yard loss.
Two plays later, the Mustangs found paydirt again. On a second-and-5 from the 37, Mask tried to hit Zach Kellum with a seam pass. The wet ball deflected off of Kellum’s hands but right into the mitts of the alert Holland who caught it in stride and scored untouched.
When Mask passed to Zach Kitchens for the two-point conversion, Bryant led 16-0 with only half of the first quarter gone.
And it could’ve been worse for the Junior Eagles after quarterback Brad Thomas fumbled on the first play of their next possession. Bryant recovered at the Vilonia 28. When Mask and Holland combined again on a fourth-down play, it appeared the Mustangs had a first-and-goal at the 5 but the play was negated by a holding penalty.
But Vilonia, which didn’t manage a first down in the first half, was forced to punt moments later and the Mustangs were back in the end zone shortly. Mask hit Holland with a 26-yard pass then found John Isabell on a 27-yard scoring strike to make it 22-0.
Turnovers ended Vilonia’s next three possessions as Zach Kitchens made an interception and Toshi Watada and Sherief Qassas recovered fumbles. The latter came after Vilonia picked up its first two first down of the game midway through the third quarter (one of those came thanks to a penalty). It also led to the Mustangs final score.
Kellum and the Bryant offensive line did the work on that drive. It started with a 14-yard run by the Mustang fullback. A play later, he broke 53 yards to the 1. He scored from there with 2:42 left in the third quarter to make it 28-0.
Vilonia’s scoring drive almost stalled when Thomas fumbled and Wright recovered for a loss of nine. That set up a fourth-and-17 at the Bryant 44. But Smith’s 18-yard run and a face mask penalty kept the march alive and the Eagles eventually scored on a 7-yard pass from Thomas to Nick Woodward with 2:20 left in the game.