With a first-round bye and the No. 2 seed, sitting opposite undefeated North Little Rock in the 7A Playoffs was on the line in Friday’s game between Bryant and Conway.
Both teams entered the night with one 7A Central loss, both coming against the Charging Wildcats.
On Sept. 28, the Wampus Cats (8-2, 5-2 7A Central) lost to NLR 35-14, while Bryant (8-2, 6-1 7A Central) lost last week 34-28 to the Charging Wildcats.
A lot was on the line Friday and only one team could come out of that game with a win.
Unfortunately for Conway, that team was the Hornets, who came away with a 40-10 win in Saline County.
The Wampus Cats just had three plays before having to punt to start the game.
Just under two minutes off the clock, Bryant took over and drove down the field, chipping away yardage before finally punching the ball to the end zone on a 24-yard rushing touchdown by senior running back Latavion Scott.
The extra point was missed, giving the Hornets a 6-0 lead.
Conway again struggled to move the ball on the next drive, punting after three plays.
Looking to build on its lead, Bryant drove to the Wampus Cats’ 39 before the Conway defense forced the Hornets to punt.
Neither team could do anything until the Wampus Cats took over at their 35-yard line with 10:44 on the clock.
Conway sustained its drive, holding the ball until the clock ticked to 4:06 left in the first half.
The Wampus Cats faced 4th-and-2 at the Hornets’ 14, leading to a converted 31-yard field goal by Conway junior kicker Will Hogue, leading to a three-point difference.
With nearly four minutes to work with in the half, the Bryant offense got their second score of the night on Scott’s second rushing touchdown of the night, this time from 18 yards out.
A failed two-point conversion left the Hornets with just a nine-point lead with 1:08 left in the first half.
After getting the ball to open the half, Bryant added to its lead when Scott ran for his third touchdown of the night from 18 yards out, leading to a 19-3 lead.
Driving and looking to cut the lead down, Conway found itself at the Hornets’ 24.
Facing a 2nd-and-7, Wampus Cat senior quarterback Jovoni Johnson dropped back but was pressured and tried to get rid of the ball.
Unfortunately, it was gift wrapped for Bryant senior linebacker Jakob Neel, who returned the interception 76 yards for a pick six, giving the Hornets a 26-3 lead.
Another failed attempt to score on Conway’s next drive, the Wampus Cats turned the ball over on downs.
This led to another Bryant touchdown, which came from junior running back Ahmad Adams from 29 yards out.
Conway scored its next touchdown on the ensuing drive on a 14-yard pass from Johnson to senior wide receiver Nick Richmond in the back of the end zone.
On the play, it looked as if the Bryant defender rolled up on Richmond’s leg. Both players had to be helped to the sideline.
Trying to get the running clock going, the Hornets scored its final touchdown of the night when it scored again on the ground with a 45-yard rushing touchdown from Adams, leading to the 40-10 final.
The loss sets Conway up for a home game Nov. 9 against 7A West No. 6 seed Rogers.
If the Wampus Cats win that game, they will play the West’s second seed Bentonville West on the road.