BY EASTON LEONARD –
The Bearcats hit the road for the second game of this season and traveled to Hot Springs to take on the Trojans, September 8. Mena went into the game trying to break the winning streak of the Trojan team, who have defeated the Bearcats the last two years. And, in a game which was close for the majority of time, the Bearcats were able to bring home the victory, defeating the Trojans on their own gridiron, 29-18.
As in week one, the Bearcats won the coin toss and deferred to receive the ball to start the second half.
Christian Lua’s opening kickoff for Mena was received and returned by the Trojans to their own eighteen yard line.
After a first down false start against Hot Springs, the Trojans quarterback, #7 Aaron Williams, connected a pass to #32 Joseph Westbrook of the home team, who caught the ball and ran down to the Mena 21-yard line. A few plays later, the Trojans handed the ball off to Kenneth Byrd who ran into the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown run. Christian Jovel’s point-after-attempt for the Trojans was no good, leaving the score at 6-0.
Mena took over on their first possession at the 22-yard line, after a holding penalty on the kickoff. After gaining a few yards on a couple plays, the Bearcats fumbled the ball on second down, giving the ball back to Hot Springs on the Mena 44-yard line.
The Trojans lost yardage on a few plays during their second possession, right before Nick Linch intercepted a Hot Springs pass, returning the ball to the Mena 38.
On second and ten from the 38, senior Carson Cannon handed the ball off to the unstoppable Justin Dean, who ran all the way down to the Trojans 36. After a penalty against Hot Springs on the same play, the Bearcats moved down to the 26, with a new set of downs. A few plays later, on second and goal from the 1-yard line, Cannon kept the ball up the middle for 1-yard and ran into the end zone, giving Mena the lead, 8-6, with 1:37 left in the first quarter.
Camden Brodersen’s kickoff for Mena was returned by the Trojans to their own 35-yard line.
The Trojans third offensive possession went into the second quarter, however, Hot Springs went three-and-out, being forced to punt. Justin Dean returned the Trojans punt to the 38-yard line.
After driving down to the Hot Springs 34-yard line, the Trojans forced Mena to turn the ball over yet again, handing Hot Springs the ball on their own 36-yard line.
On Hot Springs’ fourth offensive possession, the Trojans drove down to the Mena 18-yard line before Damien Walker was handed the ball and ran in for an 18-yard touchdown run. The Trojans went for the 2-point conversion, but were unsuccessful, making the score 12-8 Hot Springs.
Mena took over on their own 35-yard line following the kickoff and drove down to the Hot Springs 12-yard line before Justin Dean ran in for the second Bearcat touchdown of the night. On the 2-point conversion try, Cannon, again, ran into the end zone right up the middle, giving Mena the lead 16-12 with 1:39 left before halftime.
Hot Springs went three-and-out on their next possession, but time expired during their punt. Making the halftime score 16-12 in favor of the Bearcats.
The Bearcats took over after halftime at their own 38-yard line after the kickoff, but were unable to score on their first possession of the second half, after failing to earn a first down on fourth down from the Hot Springs seventeen.
Both teams went scoreless in each of their next two offensive possessions, going into the fourth quarter with the score still 16-12. Breaking the scoreless drought, the Trojans drove from their 25-yard into the Mena red zone, before Hot Springs ran in for a touchdown. Going for the two-point conversion yet again, the Trojans were unsuccessful, with the score 18-16 with 7:52 left in the game.
It only took the Bearcats a few minutes before taking the lead again, as Mena drove from their 35 down to the Trojans 15, where Justin Dean ran in for a 15-yard touchdown. Mena went for the extra two points again, but came up short. Making the score 22-18 with 4:51 left in the final quarter.
Hot Springs went three-and-out on their next possession, giving the Bearcats the ball back with excellent field position, after going for it on fourth down.
Mena took over from the Trojans 25-yard line on their ninth offensive possession. On first down, Cannon kept the ball for five yards, before “D1 Dean” broke multiple tackles with the stiff arm he is known for and ran 20 yards for a Bearcat touchdown on second down. Camden Brodersen’s point-after-attempt split the uprights, making the score 29-18 with 2:49 left in the game.
Each team played another offensive possession before the game came to an end, but neither were able to score, keeping the Bearcat victory in line, by a score of 29-18.
The now 2-0 Mena Bearcats will host the rival Waldron Bulldogs this Friday, September 15th, at Bearcat Stadium. The Bulldogs will come into Friday’s game, also with a season record of 2-0, after a week one win against Mansfield, 35-28, and a week two win against Cedarville, 29-0. The Bearcats haven’t lost a game against Waldron since 2004.
Kickoff for this Friday’s matchup against Waldron is set for 7:00pm. If you can’t make it to the game, make sure to tune in on KQOR 105.3 by downloading the app or catching the stream at MyPulseNews.com.