Hornets defense wows Wolverines in rout
BRYANT 38, BENTONVILLE WEST 0
BRYANT — The Bryant Hornets (2-0) lived up to their top ranking Friday, returning to action against Bentonville West (1-2) after a week off — strolling away with a 38-0 win at home.
“I thought we played well,” said Head Coach Buck James. “I have a lot of respect for Bentonville (West). I watched them on tape against Owasso (Oklahoma). Owasso has a good football team. Bentonville was right there with them in the fourth quarter and I think they just fatigued. We did a really good job of jumping on top of them and playing well.”
Bryant’s defense has been touted as possibly the best in school history by James coming into the season. On Friday, it proved the head Hornet correct, allowing a total of 115 yards in the rout, including only 60 in the first half.
The Hornets defense also smothered the ground attack, allowing 16 yards on 17 carries.
“I thought our defense was very sharp tonight,” James said. “We beat them to their spots and gave ourselves a chance to have some success and get our offense back on the field.”
Offensively, Bryant was unstoppable most of the night, totaling 534 yards on 63 plays.
Junior quarterback Austin Ledbetter lit up the stat sheet again, completing 15 of 21 pass attempts for 292 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half. He would also scamper into the end zone for a fourth score in the win.
“Austin was able to deal the ball to four or five different guys,” James said. “We made them cover the field.”
After forcing a punt on the Wolverines opening series, Bryant marched the ball 50 yards on 11 plays, capped with a 1-yard keeper from Ledbetter for the score with 6:32 to tick in the first.
Bryant would quickly make it 13-0 in the first following a 39-yard TD strike from Ledbetter to River Gregory with 3:33 still to play in the opening frame. A missed extrapoint try would damper the score.
Following a third straight punt and the game’s first turnover, Bryant was back in business on offense, using two plays to go 71 yards as Ledbetter found receiver Jake Meaders for a 61-yard TD with 9:11 to roll in the first half.
Up 20-0 and with the ball at its own 4, Bryant was calm as it
marched nearly the length of the field for another score before the half.
Paced largely by a 66-yard completion from Ledbetter to Tre’vun Herron, the Hornets were able to cap the lengthy drive with a 5-yard TD connection from Ledbetter to Meaders with 4:39 left in the half to go ahead 27-0.
Needing a score and 2-point conversion to start the sportsmanship rule in the second half, Bryant turned to running back Ahmad Adams for the success. The big senior back rumbled 6 yards for the score, following the TD with an untouched 2-point conversion to help his team lead 35-0 at the break.
Adams finished the game with 10 carries for 71 yards and a score.
“Ahmad ran well and when you get that big joker going it is tough,” James said. “I think our offense did a good job tonight.”
Bryant would add a 43-yard field goal in the second half — off the boot of Brock Funk — for the only points in that time, ending with the Hornets up 38-0.
Ten different receivers caught passes for Bryant in the game with Herron leading the way with 82 yards. Meaders, who handled quarterback duties in the second half, followed with three catches for 77 yards and two TDS. From under center, he would complete 8 of 13 passes for 121 yards and an interception.
James did say his team committed a few mental mistakes, something it needs to clean up moving forward.
“I really feel like if we can fix our mental mistakes, we have a really good chance to have a good football team. It doesn’t matter how good you think you are, it’s how good you are on Friday night. We have to fix some of that stuff,” he said.
Bryant travels to Fayetteville in Week 3. The Purple Dogs defeated the Hornets 36-35 at home in the regular season a year ago, but would be defeated 28-25 by Bryant in the second round of the 7A playoffs. The last three meetings between the two, including the 2018 playoffs, have been decided by a total of four points. Bryant is 2-1 in those contests.
“I have a lot of respect for their program,” James said. “It is one of those games that you definitely mark on your calendar. It is definitely a playoff-caliber game. They are probably one of the better teams in the state, without a doubt, and we have to play at a different level to have a chance to beat them on their home turf.”
Kickoff between the two 7A powerhouse teams is set for 7 p.m.
Bryant defenders Cameron Scarlett, 43, and Daylon Land work to stop Bentonville West’s Carlos Hall on Friday at Hornet Stadium. Bryant will travel to Fayetteville in Week 3. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 20.
Bryant junior quarterback Austin Ledbetter releases a pass in the Hornets 38-0 win over Bentonville West at home Friday. Ledbetter completed 15 of 21 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns — all in the first half.