Mustangs keep slate clean with 30-8 win over Wolves
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
The Bryant Junior High Mustangs’ defense just keeps getting better. Faced with their most physical opponent of the season thus far in the Lake Hamilton Junior Wolves, the Mustangs nevertheless shut down the opposition offense once again in a 30-8 non-conference victory Thursday.
The Mustangs’ first-team defense has not allowed a touchdown as the team has jumped out to a 4-0 start. All 22 points Bryant has allowed this season have come in the fourth quarter when the opponents are still running their first-team offense against the Mustangs’ second- and third-teamers.
Commendably, giving everybody a chance to play takes priority for head coach Scott Neathery and his staff.
Lake Hamilton managed just three first downs against the Mustangs’ top defenders. The Junior Wolves had just one in the first half and it came on a fluke play in which an interception turned into a completion. The Mustangs had a 15-0 lead by that time (and on the very next play, made an interception). By the time, Lake Hamilton managed another first down, late in the third quarter, it was a 23-0 game and all but over.
“Our kicking game was better this week, our special teams were better and I can’t say enough about the defense,” Neathery stated after the game. “They keep us in good field position and, you know, whenever you don’t have to drive the ball 80 yards every time, that really helps.
“Coach (Terry) Harper’s done a great job with them,” Neathery noted. “(Lake Hamilton played smash-mouth football, but our team stepped up to the challenge and did a great job. The first half, they did an outstanding job. I’m extremely proud of them.”
The defense was put on the spot early when the Mustangs fumbled at their own 46 on the third play of the game.
But Lake Hamilton netted just four yards in three plays as Jason Rose, Nate Roe and Matt Clarke each stepped in to lead swarm tackling. The defense kept its discipline on a fourth-and-6 when the Junior Wolves tried to draw them offsides with a long count. The Mustangs didn’t jump and Lake Hamilton called timeout to bring in the punt team.
A short punt ensued and the offense regained possession at its 28. On the first play, tailback Matt White rambled 37 yards before Lake Hamilton caught him from behind after he made a cutback at the Wolves’ 35.
After White lost seven yards on the next play, Jonathan Jameson broke a trap up the middle for 23 to the 19. Five plays later, Zack Dickson bowled into the end zone from the 3. Matt Sullivan kicked the point-after to make it 7-0 with :49.8 left in the first quarter.
Lake Hamilton, in turn, netted one yard in three plays and was forced to punt again as the second quarter unfolded. Another short kick gave the Mustangs the ball at their own 48. Andy Summers rumbled for 14 yards on first down then added 5. After a motion penalty negated that pickup, White scampered for 26 yards, setting up his 14-yard touchdown run three plays later.
Dickson ran for a two-point conversion and it was 15-0.
Lake Hamilton, on a second-and-10 from its own 30, picked up its initial first down. Quarterback John Meyers’ pass down the left side ricocheted out of the hands of Jameson, who had receiver Beau Brickell well covered. The ball bounced into Brickell’s arms for the reception at the Bryant 48.
On the next play, however, Shea Rentch picked off a Meyers’ pass at the 35 and returned it to the 44.
The Mustangs drove to the Lake Hamilton 14 before running out of time and downs as the half ended.
The Junior Wolves’ woes continued early in the third quarter. After picking up just two yards on three plays, Meyers dropped back to punt. But the snap sailed over his head and he was lucky to cover the loose ball at the 7.
Bryant took over and, in two carries, Summers blasted into the end zone. Kevin Littleton passed to Dickson for a two-point conversion and the lead was 23-0.
The next Lake Hamilton possession produced a pair of first downs but ended abruptly again when Bryant’s Chance King intercepted a Meyers pass at the 30 and returned it to the 41.
The Mustangs nudged out a first down then appeared to stall. On a third-and-11 at the Lake Hamilton 48, however, Littleton went deep to White down the right sideline, caught him in stride and, after breaking a tackle, White went the distance for his 12th touchdown of the season.
Sullivan booted the PAT and it was 30-0 with 5:07 left in the game.
Lake Hamilton’s score came in the final minute of the game on a 35-yard run by Brandon Payton. David Garcia ran for the two-point conversion that set the final score.
White was held under 100 yards rushing for the first time this season. He wound up with 74 yards on 10 carries, but he added two pass receptions for another 72 yards. Summers rushed 10 times for 54 yards for the Mustangs.
In the eighth grade game, Lake Hamilton prevailed 16-6. Bryant’s touchdown came on a long pass from quarterback Brandon Wooten to Josh White.
The Mustangs play their final non-conference game this Thursday when they host another old Big Eight Conference rival Hot Springs.