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story.lead_photo.caption Bryant’s Jeremiah Long (30) runs past Little Rock Catholic defender Nic Gonzales for a 15-yard touchdown during Thursday’s 7A-Central conference game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

Bryant's defense and special teams were catalysts Thursday night at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

The Hornets had two interception returns for touchdowns and a blocked punt for another score in a 41-27 victory over Little Rock Catholic.

Gallery: Catholic Vs. Bryant Football

Andrew Hayes and Kajuan Robinson scored defensively for Bryant (3-2, 1-1 7A-Central) and Marvin Moody added a score in the end zone after blocking a Catholic punt.

With a young offense, Bryant Coach Buck James has relied on his defense and special teams this season.

"Our defense has played good all year," James said. "Our offense has kept us in trouble. But I can't say enough about our defense. I'm really proud about how our defense played."

The Hornets limited Catholic sophomore running back Samy Johnson to 110 yards on 23 carries, with 52 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter. Defensively, Bryant allowed 214 yards.

"We filled the gaps," James said. "We tried to make him bounce. We knew that with him running the football, they could beat us. You've got to cut the head off of the guy that makes the monster run. He's their guy."

Catholic (1-4, 0-2), which trailed 17-0 after the first quarter, tied the game at 20-20 with 8:24 left in the third quarter on Johnson's 4-yard touchdown run.

But Bryant responded, going 80 yards in six plays as senior quarterback Beaux Bonvillain found sophomore wide receiver Randy Thomas for a 25-yard touchdown to give the Hornets a 27-20 lead with 6:07 in the quarter.

On Catholic's first play of its next drive from its own 9, senior quarterback Taylor Price's pass was tipped by sophomore A.J. Williams and his classmate Robinson, 6-2, 290 pounds, caught the ball and returned it 6 yards for a touchdown and a 34-20 lead at the 5:56 mark.

With 10:19 remaining, Moody blocked Catholic punter Carlton Adam's punt in the end zone and scored to extend the Hornets' lead to 41-20.

Johnson's 52-yard run, his longest of the game, cut the lead to 41-27 with 2:49 left, but that was as close as Catholic would get.

Rockets Coach John Fogleman said turnovers were devastating to his team Thursday. Catholic lost its first two games in the 7A-Central, also falling at Cabot last Friday.

"They scored three touchdowns other than their offense," Fogleman said. "Some guys don't throw one pick-six in their career, much less two in a game. We had two of those and a blocked punt. Those are correctable mistakes, and we have to correct them."

Jeremiah Long's 15-yard run, Hayden Ray's 30-yard field goal, and Hayes' 24-yard interception return helped Bryant take a 17-0 first-quarter lead.

Johnson scored from 13 yards out on a direct snap for the Rockets' first points to cut the lead to 17-7 with 5:48 left in the first half. Ray kicked a 37-yard field goal with four seconds left in the half to stretch the advantage to 20-7, but Orlando Henley returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for the Rockets with no time left to cut the lead to 20-13.

Bonvillain passed for 109 yards and 1 touchdown in a reserve role, coming on for sophomore Ren Hefley late in the first half. Hefley had 121 yards of passing and was intercepted twice.

Bryant -- which has won twice this season at War Memorial Stadium, with its other Little Rock victory coming against Benton in Week 1 in the Salt Bowl -- hosts Little Rock Central next Friday. Thursday's victory was a big one for James and the Hornets as they aim to compete in the tough 7A-Central this season.

"It was huge," James said. "Anything can happen. We can keep getting better, and I expect us to keep getting better. Our football team is young and inexperienced. Our coaching staff is new. All we can do is get better every day."

Sports on 09/30/2016

Print Headline: Bryant scores in variety of ways

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