Junior Hornets upend unbeaten 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
In just about any championship season, there are points along the way that a team can look back and point to, instances when things jelled, something special happened that provided the impetus for that championship run.
If the Bryant Hornets freshman football team does indeed go on to win a championship, one of those moments, those turning points, they can look back on and point to will be their 17-13 win over the Lake Hamilton Wolves on Thursday, Sept. 30.
Lake Hamilton came into the game as one of only three Central Arkansas Conference unbeatens. The Wolves had, in fact, clobbered four opponents by a combined 130-42, an average of about 32-10.
The Hornets, at 2-1, jumped out to a 10-0 lead but saw that advantage disappear as Lake Hamilton scored a late touchdown in the first half then another to go ahead early in the second.
And it was about to get worse. The Wolves, taking advantage of a short Bryant punt, had driven from the Hornets’ 43 to the 6 with a chance to go up by two scores. That’s where the first big moment occurred. In four plays from the 6, Lake Hamilton could get no closer than the 1. With 2:22 left in the third quarter, the Wolves turned the ball over on downs.
It was the offense’s turn. And they wound up having to dig themselves out of the hole not just once, but twice. After Nick Suggs, who rushed for 106 yards on 13 carries in the game, managed 2 yards to the 3, quarterback Logan Parker broke a 38-yard run. But a penalty negated almost all of the gain.
Unfazed, the Hornets kept coming. Parker, throwing out of his end zone, completed a 16-yard pass to Nathan Probst for a new set of downs. He then found wideout Logan Cruse down the right sideline. Cruse jumped and juked his way to a 47-yard gain to the Lake Hamilton 32.
A play later, Parker connected with Jordan Knight down the middle for 16 more yards. Though a penalty knocked them back to the 21, the Hornets made up for it with another Parker to Knight connected for 20 yards as the third quarter ended.
The Hornets had driven from their own 1, to the Lake Hamilton 1. And, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Parker sneaked into the end zone for the go-ahead score. Knight kicked the extra point to make it 17-13.
“That’s something we could not have done last year,” stated Hornets head coach Jason Hay. “We drove it 99 yards. We made a big time stop on defense, the defense did a great job. That was the game-breaker.”
It also helped that, on the ensuing kickoff, a penalty wiped out most of a 77-yard return for an apparent touchdown by Lake Hamilton’s Cole Lorigan.
Forced to start at their own 31, the Wolves still made a big to regain the lead thanks in large part to a 27-yard pass from Josh Whitney to Lorigan to convert a third-down play.
But the Wolves got no closer. Fullback Joey Baker was stopped for a loss on first down then, on a reverse, the Hornets tracked down David Church for no gain. Whitney threw incomplete on third down and his fourth-down aerial was broken up by Knight and Emanuel Albeik at the 10-yard line.
Bryant took over but there was still 4:41 to play, enough time for Lake Hamilton to made a stop and get the ball back. And when the Hornets’ first play, a 10-yard keeper by Parker was negated by a holding penalty, that looked most likely. But, on second-and-21, Parker passed 14 yards to Jake Jackson. On third down, Parker and Knight teamed up for 8 more yards to the Lake Hamilton 49.
But the Hornets were still a yard short of a first down and, with 2:32 still to play, it looked like Lake Hamilton would get one more chance.
Hay sent his punt team onto the field but then changed his mind and sent the offense back out. And when Parker kept on a quarterback sneak and picked up the first down, the Hornets were on their way to running out the clock and nailing down the win.
“If we’re going to win, we’re going to do it without punting there, doing the best we can,” Hay said later. “Those guys are winners and that doesn’t need to be my call, it needs to be their call. We were going to let them decide who wins the game.”
The Hornets piled up 307 yards of offense, while holding the Wolves to 177. Parker completed 10 of 20 passes for 190 yards.
The first quarter of the game was scoreless. Bryant made a bid to score with a drive from their 43 to the Lake Hamilton 17, but they ran out of downs.
After forcing a Lake Hamilton punt early in the second quarter, the Hornets started their second possession at their own 33. Suggs broke free up the middle and rolled 67 yards to the game’s first touchdown with 6:40 left in the half. Knight booted it to 7-0.
After another Lake Hamilton punt, Bryant took over at its 38 and immediately got into scoring position again as Parker hit Cruse for 34 yards then Suggs popped for 11. Parker kept to the 7 where, on a second-down play, the Hornets may have gained a break when Parker fumbled and Suggs managed to recover.
A play later, the Hornets faced a fourth-and-9 at the 10 and Knight was called upon to kick a field goal, which he drilled from 26 yards out to make it 10-0 with 2:28 left in the half.
Lake Hamilton then showed why it was 4-0 coming into the game, dashing 59 yards in six plays for an answering score. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Hornets were flagged for a personal foul that converted a fourth-and-4 from the Bryant 41. Whitney’s pass over the middle to Dylan McMahan put up the points from 21 yards out and it was 10-7 at the half.
To start the second half, the Wolves recovered a fumble on the kickoff return at the Bryant 30. A play later, Baker broke a 24-yard run to give his team the lead, though the Hornets blocked the extra point attempt, leaving it 13-10.
Now, with one unbeaten vanquished, the Hornets will get a shot at another one as they travel to Conway to play the 5-0 White team on Thursday, Oct. 7.