White Hornets hang on for win over Benton in down-to-the-wire battle

Photos courtesy of Adam Settle

Story courtesy of Jim Gardner

BENTON — The Bryant White Hornets eighth-grade team of Bryant Junior High jumped out to a 14-0 lead, staved off a late rally by the Benton Panthers’ eighth-grade team, to hold on for a 20-14 win on Thursday evening at the Benton Athletic Complex. 

“We beat a really talented Benton team,” said Hornets head coach Russell Wortham whose team improved to 4-2 going into a home battle with Conway White on Halloween night. “Mytorian Singleton scored all three touchdowns and added a two-point conversion.

“Our defense stepped up when we needed it to with two goal-line stops and two forced fumbles,” he added.

“I am very proud of how our guys played with their heart and took care of business down the wire,” the coach concluded. “Our coaching staff had a great defensive game-plan and had our players prepared.”

The Hornets received the opening kickoff and took seven plays to score on a 71-yard drive.  Gary Rideout passed 36 yards to Singleton for the touchdown. A two-point conversion pass failed to leave the Hornets with a 6-0 lead.

Benton’s ensuing drive reached the Hornet 35-yard line, but on the next-to-last play of the first quarter, Bryant’s Nicholas Gibbs recovered a Panther fumble.

Bryant went three-and-out and punted the ball back to the Panthers.  With 4:31 left in the first half, Benton went on a long, time-consuming drive. Benton quarterback Peyton McNeely ran for 32 yards on the possession, but on his fourth consecutive carry of the drive, left the game due to injury.  The Panthers reached the Hornet 1-yard line, but on the final play of the first half, fumbled and Bryant’s Gavin Lewis recovered to leave the score 6-0 at halftime.

The Hornets struck quickly to start the second half.  After stopping Benton’s opening drive of the third quarter, it took Bryant White just one play to score when Singleton raced 46 yards untouched.  Singleton ran in the two-point play to push the Hornet lead to 14-0.

Benton answered the Hornet score on its next possession. Jake Herbner, subbing at quarterback for the injured McNeely, completed a swing pass to Chris Bernard who sprinted 34 yards for the touchdown. Khristian Turner ran in the two-point conversion to narrow the score to 14-8.

The Benton defense held Bryant White to three-and-out on the next series. Justen Myles hit a 40-yard punt to pin the Panthers back at their own 13-yard line. However, on the Panthers’ first snap, Barnard busted through the line and outran the Hornet secondary for an 87-yard touchdown. Lewis tackled Benton’s two-point try to leave the score tied at 14-all at the end of the third quarter.

Bryant White responded with a 10-play, 55-yard touchdown drive that took 4:03 off the fourth quarter clock. Singleton carried the ball on seven consecutive plays, scoring on his seventh carry from two yards. Benton stopped the two-point try leaving the Hornets with a 20-14 lead with 2:11 remaining.

Myles House returned Bryant White’s kickoff to the Hornet 35-yard line, but a holding penalty against the Panthers wiped out the big return. Facing a first-and-10 from their own 27, the Panthers’ Barnard carried for eight yards and 31 yards to move the Panthers to the Hornet 34.

On fourth-and-three at the Bryant White 27, Herbner completed a pass to Colby Howard for 5 yards. Following an incompletion, then a pass interference call against the Hornets, Benton was left with one final snap at the Hornet 11. Herbner attempted a pass to Howard in the right corner of the end zone, but Hornet defensive back Bryson Adamoh batted it away to preserve the Hornet victory.

Barnard led the Panther offense with 187 yards rushing and 34 yards receiving.  Singleton led the Hornet offense with 97 yards rushing and 51 yards receiving. Defensively, Keandre Boson, Herbner and Turner led the Panthers with four tackles. For the Hornets, Colin Jones and Singleton led with four tackles.

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