A lot of football fans expected the Mineral Springs Hornets to go “one and done” when they opened the first round of the Class 2A playoffs against the Hampton Bulldogs.
Hornet Head Coach David Bennett and his players had something else in mind and returned home from Southern Arkansas with an 18-14 win over the Bulldogs to advance to Round 2 of the state playoffs.
This Friday, the Hornets will point their bus toward Northeast Arkansas for a 256-mile drive to face the Earle Bulldogs.
Earle will be well-rested after an open date to end the regular season and receiving a first-round bye due to their first-place finish in 3-2A with an 8-1 record.
The Bulldogs lost their first game of the season to Helena-West Helena 22-14 before winning out the rest of the season and averaging just over 51 points a game.
The highly-ranked team scored over 60 points in four of its games and its stingy defense threw three shutouts.
“They’ve got a Division I athlete,” said Bennett about the Bulldogs’ quarterback Gerry Bohanon.
Maxpreps.com lists some of the teams looking at Bohanon as Arkansas, Baylor, Louisville, Louisiana State University and Alabama.
Bennett is hopeful his team will ride the momentum gained from Friday night’s win over Hampton. “We’ve got to stay focused, that’s for sure,” he said.
Down in Southern Arkansas Friday night, the Hornets and Bulldogs banged heads to a 0-0 tie in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Hornets put up six points countered by Hampton’s seven points.
“They hit their extra points and we didn’t and that was the difference going into halftime,” Bennett said.
Extra points continued to elude the Hornets in third quarter while Hampton continued to hit theirs to hold a 14-12 lead headed into the final quarter.
The Hornet defense shutout the Hampton drives to give their offense one last shot at the goal line with close to six minutes left in the game. Mineral Springs started their drive near the 40.
“We knew we had to run some high-percentage plays,” the coach said. “And we needed to eat up as much of the clock as we could.”
The Hornets ground down to striking distance and Rickey Walker rolled in for the score with just under four minutes left in the game. The MS extra point failed again, but the Hornets had moved ahead 18-14.
Enter the Hornet defense.
Hampton’s offense got the ball back around the 3:30 mark and quickly moved to midfield. The Hornets called a timeout to regroup and retool their defensive plan. With just over one minute left in the game, the defense gave the Hornets the ball back and they were able to run the clock out on the 18-14 win.
The Bulldogs finished better than the Hornets on paper and collected 240 yards of offense, 12 via the pass and 228 yards on 46 carries.
The Hornets gained a total of 216 yards with only 38 yard coming from the ground game. Quarterback Peyton Haddan hit 8/17 passes for 180 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while Octavion Ceaser added one pass completion for eight yards.
Hornet receivers were led by Raheem Brown, who pulled in eight passes for 163 yards and two TDs. Rayshawn Sanders, who covered a Bulldog fumble on defense, caught the Hornets only other reception for 15 yards.
The ground game was led by Walker with seven carries for 22 yards and one TD followed by Tahji Beal with seven carries for 21 yards. Adding to the rushing total were Dashawn Compton, Haddan and Ceaser.