Mustangs roll past Jr. Bears, 26-6
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
Matt White rushed for 120 yards on just nine carries and scored three touchdowns — all in the first half — as the Bryant Junior High Mustangs opened the 1998 season with a 26-6 whipping of the Sylvan Hills Junior Bears Thursday.
Sylvan Hills didn’t score until there was just 1:29 left to play and the Mustangs’ reserves had taken over. Brandon Hudson put the points on the board with a 74-yard run, doubling his rushing for the game to 148 yards on 19 carries.
“I’m excited,” said Bryant’s Scott Neathery after the win, his first as a head football coach. “Real excited. My nerves were going crazy before the game. But whenever the kids come out and play like that, with all the enthusiasm, you can’t ask for anything more. They all played hard.
“We missed a few assignments on offense and on defense,” Neathery noted, “but we always came back with a big play and that’s what you like to see. I believe in the big play and believe that enthusiasm makes for a big play. We’ll get the mistakes ironed out. I’m just real proud of all of these guys.”
In eighth-grade action, Sylvan Hills got the better of it 14-6. Andrew Norman accounted for Bryant’s touchdown.
In the ninth grade game, an opening kickoff return of 22 yards by Cody Graddy on a short kick made the Mustangs an immediate threat to score. And, despite a holding penalty, that’s just what they did, covering 45 yards in seven plays. White contributed a 13-yard run that converted a third-and-2 at the 37 then set up his 4-yard touchdown run with a 17-yarder.
A bad snap sabotaged the extra-point attempt.
In turn, Sylvan Hills lost yardage on its first possession and a bad snap on the Bears’ punt attempt allowed the Mustangs to take over just 39 yards away from another score.
Fullback Andy Summers got the march started with a 9-yard blast then quarterback Kevin Littleton kept for 6 and a first down. White then broke loose on a 19-yard run to the 5. Halfback Jonathan Jamison got it to the 1 and White scored on the next play to make it 12-0.
A procedure penalty negated a run for two. A second attempt from the 8 came up short.
Sylvan Hills finally picked up its initial first down on the last play of the quarter.
“We always stress wild-eyed enthusiasm on defense,” Neathery said. “Eleven people going to the ball. We may mess up but if we’re playing with a lot of enthusiasm and we’re flying to the football, you’re going to make the big play.”
The Mustangs got one of those big plays early in the second quarter when Sylvan Hills running back Jeremy Brown was seperated from the ball when he was tackled for a two-yard loss as Nate Rowe and Zack Dickson brought down. One of them recovered for the Mustangs at the 40.
Two plays later, White set sail on a 54-yard touchdown run that increased the lead to 18-0 with 4:21 left in the half.
Before the half was over, the Mustangs suffered a pair of turnovers — a fumbled punt return and an interception. But the defense wouldn’t allow the Bears to take advantage.
After the fumble, the Bears reached the Bryant 38 where, on a third-and-3, Hudson, after getting just a yard, was pounded by Jason Rose, Roe and Justin Stephens.
The Bears went for it on fourth down and threw incomplete.
After the interception at the Sylvan Hills 31, the Bears could only make it back to midfield in the :13.5 left on the clock.
Sylvan Hills managed one first down on the opening possession of the second half then Jamison and Dickson dropped quarterback Geoffrey Neal for a loss. On third-and-8 at their own 40, the Bears went to the air. But Jamison stepped in front of the pass into the flat, picked it off and raced all the way to the 4.
Since he got the team in scoring position, the Mustangs gave Jamison the chance to get the points. Working at tailback, it took just two attempts. He scored from the 1 with 3:14 left in the third quarter.
Another procedure penalty cost the Mustangs on their two-point try, but this time, on the second attempt, Littleton passed to White and the score ballooned to 26-0.
On the next Sylvan Hills possession, one of the biggest licks was passed by the Bryant defense. On a third-and-1 at the Bryant 48, Hudson took the handoff from Neal and was met head-on by the Mustangs’ Chance King for a two-yard loss.
“That got everybody fired up,” Neathery noted. “Jamison made that interception at a crucial time, Zack Dickson made several big hits. You know, if you’ve got that, you can tolerate a few mistakes because you can make the big plays if everybody’s going 100 percent. And that’s what we have.”
The Mustangs will take that kind of effort again this week when they travel to Conway for their first Central Arkansas Junior High Conference game.