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NORTH LITTLE ROCK FOOTBALL | Cats travel to Cabot for Rematch

The North Little Rock student section. Jaison Sterling photo
The North Little Rock student section. Jaison Sterling photo
North Little Rock will face Cabot in the semifinals of the 7A playoffs on Friday night. North Little Rock beat Bryant last Friday to advance. The winner of Cabot and North Little Rock will play for the state championship at War Memorial next week. Photo by Jaison Sterling
North Little Rock will face Cabot in the semifinals of the 7A playoffs on Friday night. North Little Rock beat Bryant last Friday to advance. The winner of Cabot and North Little Rock will play for the state championship at War Memorial next week. Photo by Jaison Sterling
North Little Rock's Deion Tidwell Jaison Sterling photo
North Little Rock's Deion Tidwell Jaison Sterling photo

“We couldn’t tackle 31.”

That was the gist of Bryant head coach Paul Calley’s comments after his team fell 28-7 to the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats at Hornets’ Stadium on Friday.

He had just witnessed Deion Tidwell rush 42 times for 342 yards and a touchdown.

Calley had said in interviews leading up to Friday’s game that North Little Rock looked unstoppable. Tidwell certainly was.

“He has been blocking and opening up holes for SEC backs for the last two years,” Bolding said. “It’s his time.”

North Little Rock head coach Brad Bolding said after the game that as the cold rain became steadily worse in the second half, passing became more difficult thus requiring the use of the running game, so Bolding used another facet of his ground attack.

Peyton Holmes, who has played safety most of the season, and played it well, came into the game in the second half and ran a version of the Wildcat package.

The Hornets were ill prepared and allowed Holmes to score two touchdowns in the second half. Holmes’ second score put the Charging Wildcats up 21-7. After the two former 7A-Central rivals jousted throughout the first two quarters, neither could put the ball in the end zone consistently. The only TD of the first half came on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Heath Land to K.J. Hill with 1:28 to go in the first quarter.

Bryant had their chances in the red zone but came up empty fumbling once and missing a field goal.

The Hornets struck early in the third when Brushawn Hunter carried for a 70-yard touchdown at the 11:09 mark of the third quarter seizing momentum.

But Bolding’s insertion of Holmes countered Bryant’s big play, and neither team had success through the air in the second half.

“He’s just a great athlete,” Bolding said of Holmes after the game.

The win puts the Charging Wildcats into the semifinals for the fourth time in the last five years. Friday’s game at Cabot isn’t a normal semifinal, though Bolding said there is no revenge factor.

“Revenge for what?” Bolding said. “We got whipped.”

Bolding said a loss like what they suffered earlier in the season at home forced his team to what has gotten them to where they are as a program.

“In a way we are kind of thankful because it woke our guys up,” Bolding said. “It really helped us. You learn a lot more from losing than winning. We learned a lot about ourselves and who we are as a team.”

Bolding said the keys to winning will be scoring when they get in the red zone, and not turning the ball over on offense and getting a couple stops on defense.

“You’re not going to shut down Cabot,” Bolding said. “We’ve never just totally shut Cabot down.”

North Little Rock lost in heartbreaking fashion in the semifinals a year ago to Fayetteville. The winner on Friday will face either Conway or Bentonville in the state championship game.

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