Second-half scoring binge keeps Bryant freshmen rolling
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
MORRILTON — After giving up just 6 points in their first three games this season, the Bryant Hornets freshman team was hit for 12 in less than three minutes midway through the second quarter by the Morrilton Devil Pups on Thursday, Sept. 22.
Though the touchdown plays were a little fluky, they still turned a comfortable 14-0 lead into a suddenly stressful situation, the likes of which the team hadn’t quite faced in their earlier encounters.
And it seemed to have an effect initially. Offensively, they picked up a first down but then on consecutive plays, quarterback Ethan Powell’s perfectly placed passes were dropped as his receivers, trying to make a big play, were looking for room to run before they’d collected the ball.
The defense then started to set the tone of what was to come, however. After Bryant turned the ball over on downs at the Morrilton 39, the Hornets’ Jordan Jacobs dropped Pups quarterback Terrence Heaggans for a loss of 5 and forced a fumble. Morrilton retained possession but, after a penalty, Jacobs and Nathan Lee converged to drop Heaggans for a 6-yard setback.
The Hornets foiled a hook-and-lateral play and forced a punt.
In turn, the offense suffered another drop but then Powell and his receivers started zeroing in. An 18-yard connection to Ryan McKnight got them to the Morrilton 36 but they ran out of time as the half ended.
It was a fired up hive of Hornets that took the field in the third quarter and they promptly blitzed the Pups for 20 points in the third quarter and another TD early in the fourth on the way to a 40-20 romp that improved them to 4-0 going into a South Division play in the Central Arkansas Conference.
Bryant is one of four teams in the 12-team conference at 4-0. All three are in the South Division and they take on one of them, Lake Hamilton, on the road in their divisional opener Thursday, Sept. 29. (Sheridan is the third.)
“It looked coming out of the gate kind of like — just like last week — that they were going to lay down,” said Bryant head coach Jason Hay regarding Morrilton. “A couple of missed tackles and a pick that wasn’t picked off in the end zone, it gives a team that’s 1-2 some hope.
“That’s been our problem is getting up too quick and letting down,” Hay added.
So what was said at the half? “I said we’ve got to come out there and start hammering them,” Hay stated. “I just told them, ‘It’s up to you guys,’ and I left the room and let them take care of their business. I don’t know what was said but they need to say it next week too. That was probably the best half of football, most solid half we’ve had all year, both sides of the ball.”
Indeed, by the final minute of the third quarter, Bryant had bumped the 14-12 halftime lead to 34-12 during a span in which Morrilton ran just two plays on offense.
The Hornets opened the second half with a 67-yard march to paydirt that was interrupted but undeterred by a trio of penalties. Powell scrambled for 24 yards to get the drive started. He completed all four of his passes along the way, a 5-yarder to Tim Ezel, a 14-yarder to Kaleb Jobe, a 10-yarder to Jeremy Jordan, and a 15-yarder to Jobe. From the Morrilton 16, Aspen Trevino crashed to the 1.
The ball came loose on the next play and Morrilton recovered only to have Trevino take it back for the Hornets before the Devil Pups player had hit the ground.
A play later, Trevino blasted into the end zone for the second of his four touchdowns in the game.
Austin Bradley’s PAT made it 21-12.
Morrilton fumbled on the first play of the subsequent series and Bryant’s Jacob Moran recovered at the Pups 26. Consecutive runs of 10 and 12 yards by Trevino set up his 4-yard TD tote that, with Bradley’s kick, made it 28-12.
Morrilton return man Matt Cotner was separated from the ball on the ensuing kickoff but Jermaine Evans recovered for the Pups. It was a short-lived reprieve, however. A swing pass from Heaggans to DeAndre Johnson was sniffed out by the Hornets. Johnson was bashed by a bevy of Hornets and the ball was knocked 12 yards into the Morrilton backfield where Dijon Benton covered it for Bryant.
Again, it took Trevino three carries to find paydirt. Though a snap snafu spoiled the extra point, Bryant led 34-12 with :58 left in the third period.
And it didn’t get much better for Morrilton right away. Though the Pups were able to complete an 18-yard pass for a first down on the final play of the quarter, on the second play of the final period, Dylan Chism ruined a swing pass from Heaggans to Evans for a six-yard loss.
On third-and-16 from the Morrilton 31, Heaggans faded back to pass down the right hash but, timing it perfectly, Jordan flashed in front of the receiver and intercepted in stride, out-racing the Devil Pups 40 yards for another score, making 40-12.
Bryant went to its reserves after that and Morrilton was able to drive for a touchdown with 4:29 left in the game.
The Hornets’ third tailback Austin Humbard (a starting linebacker) broke a 69-yard run for an apparent touchdown with 3:21 to play but a holding penalty negated the play. Still, the Hornets reserves were able to eat up all but the final 55 seconds of the game.
Trevino, primarily running behind the quintet of Scott Pilcher, Sam Tucker, Drew King, Lee and Jacobs, rushed for 149 yards on 22 carries. In four games, he had amassed 631 yards on the ground.
Powell was 7 of 13 passing for 100 yards and a touchdown. The score came on his first pass of the night, a beautiful 29-yard fade route to Jordan, set up by Chism’s fumble recovery near midfield.
In turn, the Hornets forced a three-and-out. Jordan’s 24-yard punt return left Bryant just 38 yards away from another score. Trevino carried five straight plays, eventually scoring from the 6.
Bradley kicked it to 14-0 with 7:16 left in the half.
Morrilton scored on the next play from scrimmage. Evans took a handoff and was hit immediately in the backfield. But he shook the tackle and tried to sweep to his left only to have the Hornets hem him in. He reversed field, broke another couple of tackles and got loose up the right hash for a 60-yard touchdown run that made it 14-6.
The Hornets came back and were at midfield when a miscommunication between quarterback and receiver left the former throwing a short route and the latter going deep. The result was an interception that was returned to the Bryant 13.
After an incomplete pass, Evans was dropped by Humbard and Benton for a loss. On third-and-12 at the 15, Heaggans threw into the end zone. Jordan appeared to have it measured for the interception but the ball went through his hands and into those of Morrilton’s L.J. Wilson for a touchdown.
A try for two failed, leaving the score 14-12 with 4:16 left in the half. Humbard covered Morrilton’s onside kick but the score remained 14-12 at the half.