Hor­nets de­fense wows Wolver­ines in rout


The Saline Courier Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Josh Briggs

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.

RICK NA­TION/SPE­CIAL to The Sa­line Courier

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.

RICK NA­TION/SPE­CIAL to The Sa­line Courier

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.

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