MALVERN, Ark. — Malvern coaches were talking about the Leopards’ poor tackling against 6A’s second-ranked Lake Hamilton Friday night. The Wolves’ Tommy Gilleran had a different perspective.
Lake Hamilton’s coach was excited about all the tackles Tevin Hughes, Owen Miller and Kendrick Martin were breaking or eluding. The Wolves scored touchdowns on all five of their first half possessions to build a 35-0 cushion, and set the stage for a running clock the final 24 minutes. Malvern made adjustments at intermission, rallying to make the final, 35-12.
“We got out there is the first half and played well because we knew what to do and we did it,” said Gilleran. “In the second half I think the kids were thinking the clock is going to run, and they didn’t take the final half serious. They were lackadaisical!
Malvern defenders couldn’t tackle Wolves
“Our running backs played well again. Those dudes are great. They break tackles all the time. They don’t get tackled by the first guy. Then we’ve also got one of the best offensive lines in the state. They come off and smash people. I also thought we played lights out defensively in the first half against a quarterback (junior Cedric Simmons) that is phenomenal.”
Hughes scored two of Lake Hamilton’s touchdowns and led all runners with 114 yards on 10 carries. Miller rushed for 79 yards and a TD on five carries, while Martin scored the game’s first touchdown and rushed for 66 yards on six totes. Tight end Gavin Robins caught a 25-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Grant Bearden.
The Wolves piled up 257 total yards in the first two quarters, but added only 61 in the final half.
Simmons rallies Leopards with 2 TD passes
The Leopards talented quarterback threw a 31-yard touchdown pass Jabri Artis with 6:01 left in the third quarter for the Leopards’ first points. Simmons then found Braylon Watson alone on the sideline in front of Malvern’s coaches and players. He danced in from 39 yards for the Leopards’ final points with 9:27 left in the game.
Simmons finished 14 of 28 for 175 yards. Watson caught seven of those passes for 99 yards. The Wolves’ defense held Simmons to 21 yards on the ground.
“I think we’ll probably play a full game,” said Gilleran. “We’ve got Hot Springs, and they’re fast and very athletic. If we don’t put it all together we could get beat.”