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CABOT -- Top-ranked Bryant fell on a Cabot fumble with 44 seconds left to secure a 17-10 victory Friday night.

The victory left the Hornets (8-0, 5-0 7A-Central) set for a showdown at home against No. 2 North Little Rock next Friday. The Charging Wildcats (8-0, 5-0) took a 49-23 victory over Fort Smith Northside on Friday.

Bryant backup quarterback Jake Meaders kept the Hornets offense moving, completing 19 of 30 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown. Starter Ren Hefley, out with a broken collarbone, should be back for the playoffs.

"I told the team this week it would be like fighting a bear with a switch if we got in here and let it be a five or six possession game," Bryant Coach Buck James said. "[Cabot] Coach [Mike] Malham didn't get where he is by not being able to have his team ready.

[HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SCOREBOARD: Live updates and scores from tonight’s games]

"What [Cabot] does is tough, and it's hard to prepare for them in a week. This is Week 8, and they are getting good at it. It is what it is. If you play someone else's game, it doesn't matter if it's poker, pool or hopscotch, you're gonna have a tough time competing."

Bryant got on the scoreboard first, going 83 yards on 13 plays capped by a 17-yard pass from Meaders to Brandon Murray with 7:11 remaining in the first quarter. Martin Ramirez added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

Cabot (4-4, 2-3) kept the ball through the remainder of the first quarter and converted a 29-yard field goal, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Panthers a first down at the 9. Adam Flores picked up a yard, but two more plays didn't move the ball and the Panthers settled for a field goal, this one from 25 yards out.

A blocking in the back penalty set the Hornets back to their 13 to start the next drive, a 16-play effort highlighted by a 26-yard pass from Meaders to Randy Thomas on a third-and-5 play. A run by Kris King picked up 7, but that was it and Bryant added to its lead with a 32-yard field goal from Ramirez for a 10-3 edge with 5:06 left in the half.

After forcing a Cabot punt, Bryant started from its 21 and moved down the field thanks to three completions by Meaders, each one good for a first down. Ramirez missed a 35-yard field-goal attempt as the half ended.

Cabot started the second half with a couple of first downs and had a first down at the Bryant 25. A second-down pass from quarterback Tommy Oaks to tight end John Wiens was incomplete in the end zone. Oaks picked up 8 on third down, but he was intercepted on fourth and 2 at the 17.

With the ball at the Bryant 15, Meaders was sacked at the 8. Two completions led to a 5-yard gain by Latavian Scott on first down, but Meaders was sacked again to make it third and 10. A 16-yard completion to Murray was good for another first down. Scott picked up 12, but Meaders, facing fourth and 4 at the 37, completed a 17-yard pass to Ja'kalon Pittman for 17 yards to the 20.

Scott scored on the next play and the Hornets had a 17-3 lead.

Four carries by Flores for 59 yards led to a 1-yard run from Noah Sorrell cut Bryant's advantage to 17-10.

The Hornets' next drive was beset by penalties. They punted to Cabot, which started at its own 20.

A 5-yard run by Josh Robinson was followed by two 15-yard penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct against the Hornets on the same play, resulting in a first down at the Cabot 49. A 5-yard pickup, a run for no gain and a false start penalty led to a fourth and 13 at the 48.

Bryant recovered the Cabot fumble on the next play, then ran out the clock.

Sports on 10/21/2017

Print Headline: Bryant outlasts Cabot in grind

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