Hornets ride 1st-half blitz to 42-7 win over Sheridan
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
In 1999, when the Bryant Hornets ran the table for their first unbeaten regular season, first AAAAA-South Conference championship and first Class AAAAA State Playoff win, it took awhile along the way for them to change from a team that thought they could be pretty good to one that knew it was very good. After all, that team was bucking a trend.
In 2001, the team, led by seniors that were sophomores on that ’99 team, it’s apparent the Hornets know they’re pretty good and it shows. The question for them will be: How good can they be?
“I hope we don’t see anybody any better,” said Sheridan head coach Marcel Vincent after the Hornets busted out to a 42-0 lead in the first half on the way to a 42-7 win over his team. “They do a lot of things and they executed well. We just didn’t have the personnel to match up with them.”
That came on the heels of the comments of Jacksonville head coach Johnny Watson to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette after his team absorbed a 31-0 hit in the first half that turned into a 31-7 loss the previous week. Watson compared the Hornets to the last two Class AAAAA State championship teams: Cabot in 2000 and Fort Smith Northside in 1999. (A Northside team, by the way, that ended Bryant’s 11-game winning streak and season in the second round of the playoffs that year.)
It might seem that the Hornets’ biggest challenge will be the balancing act between confidence and over-confidence as they take their 4-0 record into the stretch run. In reality, of course, every week from this point on will provide a variety of challenges that figure to be daunting enough to keep the best of teams’ attention.
That starts with this Friday’s Homecoming game against an unbeaten Pine Bluff team. Only the 1999 Hornets have ever defeated the Zebras since the two teams began playing in 1991. Then four of the last five games of the regular season are on the road.
Against Sheridan, the Jackets dominated as the halftime score might indicate. Sheridan tailback Darrell Dougan broke a 17-yard run up the middle on the third play of the game and it was the Jackets’ longest play from scrimmage until midway through the fourth quarter.
Junior defensive tackle Aaron Johnson set the tone after that run. He combined with Matt Clarke to stop Dougan for no gain on the next play, then tipped a pass from quarterback Stan Mosley which fell incomplete, then joined Clarke again in dropping Mosley for a 4-yard loss. Sheridan’s Chase Harris punted short, Brandon St. Pierre made a solid return and the Hornets’ offense took the field for the first time with the ball at their own 43.
That was typical of the Hornets’ field position in the first half. The offense never had more than 60 yards between them and the Sheridan goal-line.
Bryant’s defense limited the Jackets to a net of 40 yards on 35 plays in the first half while the Hornets stacked up 283 yards of offense despite the fact that they had so little ground to cover to reach paydirt. Sheridan didn’t cross midfield until recovering a third-quarter fumble.
Lance Parker, Bryant’s junior quarterback, passed the 900 yard mark passing with 227 yards and three touchdowns on 13 completions in 18 attempts. But it was Parker’s running that was a revelation. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 45 yards on three carries.
Most of that came on a brilliant run early in the game that set up the Hornets’ first touchdown. The momentum of the game was still in the balance at the time. Bryant, on its first possession, faced a fourth-and-1 at the Sheridan 48. From the shotgun, Parker took the snap and, instead of dropping back to pass or rolling out, took off, weaving his way through the surprised Sheridan defense with a couple of nifty moves along the way.
Opposing coaches scouting the game must have winced, “Oh, no — another thing we have to try to defend when we play them.”
The 34-yard pickup set up Parker’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Zack Cardinal a play later.
Penalties and a couple of turnovers were about the only things that plagued the Hornets. A clipping penalty before a punt return — while the kick was in the air — gave Sheridan a first down on its next possession. But, two plays later, on a third-and-8 from the Jackets’ 39, linebacker Alex Pudinas and defensive end Andy Summers sacked Sheridan quarterback Stan Mosley for a 7-yard loss and the punt team returned.
This time, Johnson broke through and got a piece of Harris’s kick which netted just 15 yards. Bryant took over at the Sheridan 47. A play later, Parker found A.J. Nixon in the seam for a 31-yard pickup. From the 16, Parker scrambled for 6 yards and, after a face mask penalty moved the ball to the 5, he rolled left and beat the defense to the corner for his first varsity touchdown.
Steven Lee kicked it to 14-0.
Senior linebacker Adam Hurley recovered a fumble at the Sheridan 44 with :31 left in the first quarter. With Parker completing three passes in a row, the Hornets drove to the 8. From there, a pair of Matt White runs produced a touchdown.
The Hornets appeared to have the ball back moments later. Hurley stepped in front of a Mosley pass for an interception. But an interference penalty negated the turnover. Sheridan managed to reach its 48. But, on first down, Summers and Johnson dropped Dougan for a loss. Cornerback Kevin Littleton nearly intercepted a second-down pass and, on third down, linebacker Jason Rose got one, returning to the Sheridan 31.
On the next play, Parker and Nixon teamed up again — this time for a touchdown. Lee made it 28-0 with 8:09 left in the half. The Hornets were making it look easy.
Sheridan managed 1 yard on its next possession and punted again. Due in large part to a 27-yard pass play from Parker to Cardinal, the Hornets were again in scoring position at the Sheridan 5. But a pass into the corner of the end zone was wrestled away by Sheridan’s Jared Winston to prevent the TD.
Actually, it merely delayed it.
From the 20, fullback Jamey Allen picked up a yard then Mosley dropped back to pass. The Hornets converged and Clarke hit Mosley low while defensive end Eric Scott, coming from the other side, hit him high. The Sheridan quarterback went down hard and suffered a concussion.
Sophomore Zac Corbitt came in to quarterback the Jackets and fumbled on his first snap. Chance King recovered for Bryant at the 11. Parker passed 8 yards to Matt White to set up White’s second 3-yard touchdown run of the game. Matt Sullivan kicked the point after this time and it was 35-0.
Three plays netted nothing for Sheridan on its next possession and Bryant got the ball back, after a punt, at its own 48. Parker passed to Jonathan Jameson for a 40-yard play but an illegal block trimmed the gain down. Again, it just delayed things briefly. Two plays later, Parker passed to Nixon for the score.
Sullivan made it 42-0 with 1:06 left in the half.
Everybody played for the Hornets in the second half, hardly any of them starters.
Still Sheridan couldn’t manage a first down until a pair of Bryant penalties helped a couple late in the third quarter. Even after the Hornets fumbled the ball away at their own 25, the Jackets were unable to complete a pass and turned the ball over on downs right where the Hornets had given it up.
Later, the Jackets drove from their own 18 to their 44 but only 20 yards of that ground came thanks to Bryant penalties. From the 44, they went backwards. First, Scott and Jimmy Roach sacked junior quarterback Josh Spann for a loss of 11 then, a play later, Roach, Summers and Scotty Moran dropped him for a 5-yard loss.
Sheridan punted and the Hornets again got a piece of the kick. Downfield, however, a Hornets player tried to cover the ball. It got away and Sheridan recovered at its 45. Three plays and 2 yards later, though, Sheridan was kicking again.
The Jackets finally scored with 3:41 left in the game on a 21-yard pass from Spann to Phillip Reed.