Big Blue Blowout
Bryant demolishes crosstown foe
LITTLE ROCK — Another Salt Bowl, another Bryant win. The Benton Panthers were shellshocked early on Friday at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock as rival Bryant Hornets jumped to a 21-0 lead on their way to a 42-14 rout over the Panthers in front of a crowd of
26,178 at Salt Bowl XX for Bryant’s fifth straight win over Benton dating back to 2014’s 14-14 tie. It gives Bryant a 17-1-2 record in the Salt Bowl.
“It feels good winning your first game against your cross-town rival,” Bryant Coach Buck James said. “We played pretty well. We didn’t have whole lot of things we left out there on the table. It’s a testament to our kids and our coaches and how hard they work. They worked hard for this.
“I’m glad for our community and our kids. Our kids have worked really hard. I can’t tell you the amount of hours and the time they’ve put into this. It ain’t something that’s just happened.
They didn’t get here and do this having easy practices and easy workouts. These guys were poised and ready. It was a big difference in our football teams in the way they prepared. Our guys were ready to play.”
After the Hornets held the Panthers (0-1) to a three-and-out in the first series, Bryant got to work as junior quarterback Austin Ledbetter hit senior receiver Tre’vun Herron for a 51-yard gain, and senior running back Ahmad Adams and the offensive line carried the Hornets the rest of the way with three runs for 19 yards, the last a 4-yard touchdown for the 7-0 lead with 8:08 left in the first quarter.
That would be the first of three straight Adams’ touchdowns on the night as he ran it in from 7 yards on the Hornets next series and 1 yard, after another big gain from Herron, on the third series to put Bryant up 21-0 with 10:38 left in the second quarter. Adams finished with 13 carries for 86 yards and three TDS.
“He’s a man among boys, really,” James said. “He’s a 500-pound squatter, he’s a 550pound dead-lifter, 350pound bencher. He runs 4.6. He’s a commit to Arkansas State as a linebacker. He’s the real deal. He’s a guy that just don’t get tired.”
It took a bit for the Panthers to get going offensively as they gained just 48 yard their first three series.
“They’re a really good football team,” Benton Coach Brad Harris said of the Hornets. “They’re really aggressive up front and they beat us at the point of attack all night. We had angles a lot of times and they just beat us off the football. Our sense of urgency was not good. Dragging to the line of scrimmage. I don’t quite understand that but we got to get that corrected and see what we
can get done.
“A really good football team against a team showed that we weren’t real good (Friday). We’ve got to make some corrections. That starts with personnel, with us, with scheme, everything.
We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and figure out some guys that want to play hard and lay it on the line for their teammates.”
Benton would get on the board midway through the second quarter using a 12-play, 72-yard drive which senior D’anthony Harper capped with a 4-yard TD run for the
21-7 game with 6:29 left until halftime and Benton showing life.
But, the Hornets responded with a 6-play, 91-yard drive capped by a Ledbetter to junior Hadyen Schrader 65-yard TD bomb to make it a
28-7 game with 4:22 left. After consecutive turnovers on downs and a punt, Bryant went up 35-7 when Ledbetter found senior Jake Meaders for the third time in the series for an 8-yard TD and 35-7 advantage which held until halftime.
Bryant put the icing on the cake in its first series of the second half using a 7-play, 57-yard drive capped by another Ledbetter to Meaders TD, this one from 19 yards out for the 42-7 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter to invoke the sportsmanship rule of being up 35 points in the second half.
Ledbetter finished 15 of 23 for 321 yards and three TDS without a turnover.
“He’s a heck of a player,” James said of his QB. “We had several hit in the hands or face and dropped. What he does is he makes good decisions and throws the ball on time. He’s a heck of a player and he hasn’t even scratched the surface where he’ll end up being.”
The Panthers added a score late in the fourth quarter when junior Garrett Brown hit senior Gavin Wells for a 16-yard TD to set the 42-14 final.
Brown finished 12 of 26 for 99 yards and a TD,
while Wells had six catches for 60 yards and a TD. Harper was the highlight for the Panthers, rushing 17 times for 95 yards and a TD.
“We’ve got to have D’anthony do that,”
Harris said. “If we’re going to win football games, D’anthony Harper has to be a big cog in our wheel that keeps us turning. We need him to step up and be that senior leader that we need. I thought he had a solid night. He’s going to play a huge role in our success.”
Benton senior defensive back Austin Drewry had two late interceptions for the Panthers, but the bad news is that senior Peyton Hudgins, missing the previous two Salt Bowls and seasons to injury, and junior defensive back Trevor Standridge had to leave the game.
“Peyton got his head rocked,” Harris said. “We kept him out. Don’t know exactly what’s going on, probably concussiontype symptoms. Trevor Standridge didn’t come back at half time from a concussion so we’ve got a couple guys out possibly for next week already. It don’t get any easier for us.
“Hopefully it’s nothing serious for Peyton. The dude’s had a string of bad luck and I want to see him have a great senior year. He’s going to be a big piece to the success we have.”
For Bryant, Herron had four catches for 108, Schrader four for 92 and Meaders four for 80 and two TDS.
Next week, Bryant is off with a bye, while Benton hosts the Arkadelphia Badgers, the defending 4A champs.
“We’ve got some work to do, but we’re not giving up on them,” Harris said of his Panthers. “It’s a long season and we’ve got to get ready for a good Arkadelphia team next week at home. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. Got to get ready to go.”
Members of the Bryant Hornets football team celebrate as they pose with the Salt Bowl trophy Friday at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock following a 42-14 win over arch rival Benton.
Bryant senior running back Ahmad Adams runs during the Hornets blowout win Friday in Salt Bowl XX.
Benton junior quarterback Garrett Brown releases a pass during the 42-14 loss to Bryant. Brown finished 12 for 26 for 99 yards and a score in the game.
A pair of Benton Panthers break up a pass attempt while making a play against Bryant senior receiver Jake Meaders on Friday in Salt Bowl XX at War Memorial Stadium.