PEARCY, Ark. – Third-ranked Lake Hamilton (7-0) goes into its final two regular season games unbeaten for the second straight season. The difference is junior quarterback Grant Bearden.
Bearden does not have spectacular statistics, but he executes the Wolves’ wing-t offense well. He did it again Friday night in leading Lake Hamilton past Van Buren, 44-7.
“Grant is getting better each week,” said winning coach Tom Gilleran. “I think overall, from beginning to end, this is as well as we’ve played this year. I think we’re figuring some things out offensively, as well as defensively.
“We hope to get Layne Warrick (senior quarterback) back soon. We’re taking our time with him. Every week there’s people looking out to see if Layne is warming up. He did have a little setback recently throwing the ball.”
It was Warrick that led the Wolves to an 8-0 start in 2019, but missed the final three games with a broken ankle. He suffered a shoulder injury in a preseason scrimmage.
Bearden scores Wolves’ first points
Lake Hamilton started Friday’s game just like it has most of this season. The Wolves marched 67 yards after the opening kickoff, with Bearden scoring with 9:11 left in the first quarter.
The Wolves were threatening again seconds later after a fumble recovery by cornerback Tanner Smith. Two players later Owen Miller plowed in from six yards for six points with 8:08 left in the opening period.
Alex Hurtz added a 38-yard field goal with 21 seconds left in the first quarter to make it 17-0.
The visitors retaliated quickly, scoring on a 20-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Gary Phillips to Henry Jaiden. That would be all for Van Buren’s offense, which finished with 224 total yards. Phillips completed 8 of 23 passes for 164 yards with two interceptions.
Lake Hamilton ground game was difference
Lake Hamilton piled up 266 yards in the first half alone. Miller scored on a 52-yard run with 2:28 left in the first half. Gavin Robbins intercepted a Van Buren pass seconds later to set up a 10-yard scoring run by Kendrick Martin with 37 seconds left.
The second half went by fast thanks to the mercy-rule. The clock ran non-stop in the fourth quarter after a 72-yard touchdown dash by Justin Crutchmer. Tevin Woodley added the final six points of the game on a 23-yard run with 3:56 left in the third quarter.
Miller led the Wolves’ ground game with 147 yards on 11 carries, all in the first half. Woodley had 93 yards on 16 carries. Lake Hamilton had 429 total yards, with 398 coming on the ground. That was particularly impressive since Van Buren was playing 10 players within three yards of the line-of-scrimmage.
“Now we’ve got a big game in Benton next week,” said Gilleran. “Benton is a very good football team, but it seems we always play them well. Our kids are not intimidated by them at all. Greenwood and Benton are the two best teams in 6A other than us.”
Top-ranked Greenwood beat Benton Friday night, 42-28.
In other regional games:
Glen Rose edged Centerpoint in a defensive duel, 7-6. Hot Springs Lakeside routed De Queen, 56-13. Arkadelphia rallied in the second half to beat Ashdown, 41-20. Fountain Lake upset Malvern, 18-14, while Jessieville whipped Fouke, 42-13.
Camden Fairview had no trouble with Hope, 54-12. Prescott roared past Bismarck, 63-6. Mount Ida defeated Cutter Morning Star, 50-22, Dierks topped Murfreesboro, 46-8.