For more photos of this event by Kevin Nagle, go here
PEARCY — Fabian Torres rushed for a whopping 290 yards on just seven carries but it wasn’t enough for the Bryant Blue Hornets eighth grade team of Bethel Middle School to keep up with the Lake Hamilton Wolves eight-graders Thursday night.
In a game that was less a defensive struggle than a struggle to play defense, Lake Hamilton scored on five of its seven possession and added a kickoff return for a touchdown in a wild 42-22 victory. The only series they were unable to score on was one that ended at the half and another near the end of the game when they fumbled the ball away with the final score on the board.
Torres scored on his first two touches. The Hornets were trailing 6-0 when he set sail on a 64-yard TD run. After Lake Hamilton scored again to go up 14-6, Torres turned the first snap of Bryant’s second possession into a 71-yard scoring jaunt. With the Hornets trailing 22-14 at the half, Torres broke loose on the first play of the third quarter on an 80-yard bolt. Andrew Stueve added a run for a two-point conversion and the game was knotted at 22.
But, on the ensuing kickoff, Owen Miller sprinted 92 yards for a touchdown to put Lake Hamilton back on top. Tevin Woodley, who rushed for 154 yards on 18 carries for the Wolves, added a two-point conversion run to make it 30-22.
Bryant mounted a drive in response that featured runs of 9 and 23 yards from Torres then a 15-yard gain by Steuve to the Wolves’ 13. Stueve got a yard on first down there then a pair of pass attempts fell incomplete. On fourth down, quarterback Carson Burnett threw a swing pass to Torres who laced his way to the 4, a yard short of a first down.
The Hornets turned the ball over on downs and Lake Hamilton proceeded to drive 96 yards in 15 plays to produce the first two-score lead of the contest. The Hornets’ defense forced a pair of third downs along the way. On a third-and-1 at midfield, quarterback J.T. England kept for just enough for a first. Two plays later, the Wolves faced a third-and-9 at the Bryant 48. But, on an inside reverse out of the wing-T offense, wingback Noah Tiernan got free for 21 yards to keep the drive alive.
Tiernan rushed for 105 yards on five carries in the game.
The drive reached the 3 where Woodley was stopped for a loss with defensive tackle Matthew Griffe leading the Hornets’ charge. On the next play, however, Woodley bulled his way into the end zone to make it 36-22.
Lawson Speer made a tremendous return on the ensuing kickoff that would’ve had the Hornets starting on offense in Lake Hamilton territory but, fighting for extra yardage, Speer lost the ball and the Wolves recovered at the 50.
A 31-yard burst by Woodley helped set up the final touchdown, an 22-yard run by Miller with 2:18 left in the game.
In the first half, the teams traded scores. Lake Hamilton scored on a 10-yard pass from England to Gavin Robbins. After the Hornets tied it behind Torres, the Wolves scored on a five-play drive that was punctuated by Woodley’s 6-yard run. It came a play after England and Tiernan combined on a 25-yard pass play. Woodley ran for two to make it 14-6.
After Torres’ second long TD run and his two-point conversion run, Tiernan broke a 48-yard touchdown dash. England ran in the conversion to make it 22-14.
With 5:12 left, the Hornets had more than enough time to answer particularly considering their previous scoring drives had been two plays and one play. This time, however, the series started with Burnett getting sacked for a loss of 10 yards. But Torres, following the blocking of Jason Shiflett, Kory Shelnut, Hayden Walsh, Griffe and Brooks Edmonson, laced his way to a 31-yard run and a first down.
Burnett kept for 12 yards and, on a third-and-5 at the Wolves’ 37, Steve crashed 8 yards for a first. Torres followed with a 12-yard rip and the Hornets eventually reached the 14. But Burnett was hauled down for losses on consecutive plays and, on a fourth-and-23 at the Wolves’ 29, a reverse to Speer was stopped 6 yards short as Lake Hamilton took over with :57.9 left in the half.
Now 2-1 on the season, Bethel will try to bounce back on Thursday, Sept. 21, when North Little Rock visits Bryant Stadium.