Mustangs roll over Trojans
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
Often, after a lopsided ballgame, someone will comment, “It was closer than the score would indicate.” And many times, that’s true.
Sometimes, though, the opposite is true. Like Thursday, for instance, when the Bryant Junior High Mustangs posted a 36-22 win over the Hot Springs Junior Trojans.
It wasn’t really even that close.
A pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns against the Bryant reserves allowed the Junior Trojans to make it a bit more respectable after they had fallen behind 36-8.
The Mustangs, now 2-0 going into their game at Vilonia, Sept. 14, got a second 100-yard performance from running back Brandon Spurr. In 11 carries, Spurr rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns on the heels of a 128 yard, one touchdown performance in the season opener at Sylvan Hills.
Quarterback Scott Peeler, who struggled a bit against Sylvan Hills, had a splendid outing against Hot Springs, completing eight of 12 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 26 yards on three tries and scored a TD on the ground.
Zach Cardinal hauled in four of Peeler’s passes for 51 yards.
Hot Springs actually scored first in the game. The Mustangs had stopped their opening possession at the Hot Springs 32, forcing a punt. But Cardinal tried to run under a kick towards the sideline and muffed it. Hot Springs recovered at the Bryant 38 and, a play later, tailback Cedric Easter broke a 37-yard touchdown run.
Easter added a run for two, making it 8-0.
After that wake-up call, the Mustangs dominated. Hot Springs managed just one other first down in the half and that came on the last play.
In the interim, Bryant piled up 29 points.
Peeler completed his first three passes in a 69-yard drive for a tying score. The topper was a deep pass to Bo Lee. Easter, the Hot Springs safety, actually tipped the ball but Lee kept his concentration and reeled in the pass behind the secondary and eased into the end zone for the touchdown.
Peeler then rolled out and hit Todd Bryan for a tying two-point conversion.
The Junior Trojans netted minus-6 yards on its subsequent possession as Morgan Garner, then Jesse Nordman dropped quarterback Lance Burroughs for consecutive losses.
The Mustangs gained good field position after the Junior Trojans punted from deep in their own end. From the Hot Springs 46, Spurr busted out and went the distance to put Bryant ahead to stay.
Bryan added the point-after to make it 15-8.
The Trojans netted a minus-5 yards on the next possession and punted it back to Bryant with 4:25 left in the half. Again, the Mustangs gained possession at the Hot Springs 46. Spurr contributed runs of 16 and 25 yards to set up Peeler’s 1-yard sneak for the TD.
Bryan’s PAT made it 22-8.
And it wasn’t long before the Mustangs’ offense was back in business again. Hot Springs faced a second-and-11 at its own 31. Burroughs, back to pass, had the ball ripped from his hands by Bryant’s Lapaka Szabad and Kevin Carr pounced on the fumble at the 20.
Peeler found Cardinal for 14 yards then a determined, tackle-breaking run by Spurr got it to the 1. On the next play, Spurr scored with :40 left in the half.
On the extra-point attempt, the Hot Springs defense didn’t respond when the Mustangs lined up for the “swinging gate” play, so the Mustangs ran it and eased in for a two-point conversion. But a procedure penalty negated the play. Despite the extra distance resulting from the penalty, the strong-legged Bryan then booted the extra point to make it 29-8.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, though it was played almost entirely in Hot Springs territory. The Mustangs’ first possession stalled at the Trojans’ 32. In turn, the Trojans were forced to punt. A bad snap sabotaged that effort and Easter, the punter, was hauled down at the 27.
Bryant took over but couldn’t move it. The Mustangs wound up punting. Peeler placed the kick nicely and Hot Springs wound up regaining possession at its own 4. Three plays later, the Trojans were punting it back.
A clip negated a nice 10-yard return by Cardinal that would’ve put Bryant back at the Hot Springs 24. But that proved to be merely a bump in the road. Pushed back to the Trojans’ 42, it still just took three plays to score. Spurr finished off the brief drive with a 31-yard run.
Bryan’s kick made it 36-8 with 6:25 left to play.
Hot Springs tacked on a pair of late scores to close the gap a bit.