BRYANT -- Top-ranked Bryant roared to another runaway victory Friday night.
Led by a big first half from junior quarterback Austin Ledbetter and a suffocating defensive effort, the Bryant Hornets built up a 41-0 halftime lead before cruising to a 55-0 victory over the Fort Smith Southside Mavericks in front of a packed homecoming crowd at Hornets Stadium.
"I really feel like Austin was on his A-game. He threw the ball very well ... and we had a lot of weapons that showed up, and then we were playing lights-out on defense," Bryant coach Buck James said. "When you can do that, you've got a chance."
It was the second shutout of the season for the Hornets, and it was the third consecutive game that Bryant (7-0, 4-0 7A-Central) has scored at least 55 points. Bryant's average margin victory this season is 39.3 points.
Southside (1-6, 0-4) struggled offensively all night. The Mavericks fumbled the ball away three times, each leading to Bryant touchdowns. The Hornets' defensive front sacked Southside junior quarterback Parker Wehunt five times.
"I thought (senior defensive linemen) Kyle Green and Austin Bailey played lights out. They just dominated inside there," James said. "It really gave us a spark."
Ledbetter slung it all over the field in the first half, completing 15 of 19 passes for 209 yards and 5 touchdowns.
"They were dropping a lot of people, so we just had to find holes and nit and pick where we could get receivers open," Ledbetter said.
As has been the case for most of the season, Ledbetter's night was done after two quarters. He's played just one series in the second half all season, which happened in the Hornets' Week 1 42-14 victory over Benton in the Salt Bowl on Aug. 30.
Bryant scored on its first two possessions. Ledbetter hit senior wide receiver Jake Meaders for a 4-yard touchdown, then found junior running back Joseph Young for a 19-yard touchdown. The Hornets led 13-0 with 5:11 left in the first quarter.
Ledbettter's lone mistake came on Bryant's next series when he fumbled while attempting a pass on a third and 4 at Southside's 34. But it only briefly delayed the Hornets' offensive explosion.
Two plays after regaining possession, Ledbetter hit Meaders for a 52-yard touchdown pass, putting the Hornets up 20-0 with 9:53 left before the half.
Midway through the quarter, Southside fumbled a punt return, setting up Bryant on the Mavericks' 20. Two plays later, Ledbetter and senior running back Ahmad Adams connected on an 8-yard touchdown pass, giving Bryant a 27-0 lead.
Ledbetter's final touchdown pass came with two minutes left in the first half when he found receiver Tre'vun Herron for a 19-yard score, which extended Bryant's lead to 41-0.
Sports on 10/19/2019
Print Headline: No. 1 Bryant crushes FS Southside