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LITTLE ROCK – The Bryant Hornets capped off a perfect 12-0 season Friday night with a 21-7 win over North Little Rock in the 7A State Championship game played at War Memorial Stadium.
In the first half, it was North Little Rock who was able to move the ball and control field position, but it was the Bryant defense who came up big with three interceptions allowing the offense to put 14 points on the board.
The Charging Wildcats came out swinging to begin the game. Starting at their own 19, running backs Brandon Thomas and Aaron Sims each broke the line for first down runs. Quarterback Kareame Cotton then hit receiver Bralin Battles with a pass down to Bryant’s 28. Battles caught another strike to the 21, but the drive stalled there with a failed field goal attempt at the 8:11 mark.
The North Little Rock defense showed up strong by holding Bryant to a three-and-out on its first possession. After a 14-yard punt return by Devion Larff to the Hornet 37, the Wildcats were back in business. After a 12-yard pass to Battles down to the Hornet 25, a quarterback sack by Bryant’s Kennedy Miller on the next play was nullified by a defensive holding penalty, giving the Wildcats a first down at the Hornet 12.
That’s as far as the drive would go however. A couple of plays later, Bryant’s Darrick Rose picked off a pass at the goal line and returned it all the way to the 29. Once again, the Wildcat defense would hold, forcing another punt and giving the ball back to the offense at its own 45.
Bryant’s defense then turned up the heat. After a 7-yard loss on first down, Austin Schroeder came up with the game’s second interception. The Hornet offense took over on its own 47 and didn’t stop until they reached the end zone. After long runs by Ahmad Adams and Tanner Anderson, quarterback Austin Ledbetter hit Tre’vun Herron with a 6-yard touchdown pass putting the Hornets up 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The teams traded punts to start the second quarter until Bryant got its passing game going. Ledbetter completed a 28-yard pass to Hayden Schrader down to the Wildcat 38, followed by passes to Jake Meaders down to the 26, and then the endzone. The 5-play, 60-yard drive took just 1:57 off the clock and put Bryant up 14-0, a lead they would take into halftime.
North Little Rock got its ground game going in the third quarter. Behind the running of Aaron Sims and Brandon Thomas, the Wildcats drove the ball deep into Hornet territory. The drive was capped off with a touchdown pass from Cotton to Battles on third down, making it a 14-7 game at the 8:53 mark.
Champions always answer the call, and the Bryant offense did just that. Starting at their own 20 after the kickoff, Ledbetter hit a pass to Tanner Anderson to the Wildcat 44. Followed by a nice pitch and catch to Meaders all the way to the 17, Ledbetter then connected on a touchdown strike, also to Meaders, that capped off a 7-play, 80-yard drive. Bryant took the lead 21-7 at the 7:20 mark of the third quarter and never looked back.
The fourth quarter produced a lot of action but no more scoring. In the end it was Bryant’s defense that slammed the door shut on the Wildcats, giving the Hornets their hard-fought state championship.
Posted by Mark Jenkins
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Bryant Completes Perfect Season with 7A Title Win over NLR