Football: 'Cats roll past Southside, head to Bentonville this Friday

It wasn’t expected to be much of a game and those expectations were met as North Little Rock dismantled Fort Smith Southside, 51-7, last Friday but the competition gets stiffer this week as the ‘Cats travel to Bentonville in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs.

Bentonville, as the No. 2 seed from the 7A-West, had the bye last week and had an extra week to prepare for the game.

On the line is a trip to the semifinals, something North Little Rock has done eight times in the last ten years Both losses — in 2011 and 2014 — were to Bentonville.

Of course, North Little Rock has also beaten Bentonville in the last decade with a state championship win in 2017 and North Little Rock also won at Bentonville in 2019.

North Little Rock has played for the state championship the last five years and the ‘Cats are looking for a sixth consecutive trip but would have to win this Friday and then beat the winner of Bryant and Fort Smith Northside to make that happen.

Bentonville has a pair of talented seniors in Chas Nimrod and Joey Su’a, who have both committed to play next season at SEC schools at, respectively, Tennessee and Arkansas.

Common opponents abound as Bentonville lost to Fayetteville, a team North Little Rock beat, while both teams beat Springdale Har-Ber and Fort Smith Southside.

Bentonville is averaging 45 points game on offense, while allowing 24.6.

To view the bracket, click here.

As for the ‘Cats, it was a highlight game against Southside as the greatest play in North Little Rock this season, and the best since Altee Tenpenny high hurdled a defender, came when Braxton Johnson lined up at tight end in a goal line package and caught a five-yard touchdown pass.

Appropriately, the 6-0, 305 noseguard acted like he had been there before because he had. That game. He recovered a Southside fumble in the end zone for a touchdown and it was the second of back-to-back defensive scores as Jonathan Grayson returned an interception for a pick-six on the previous drive. The defense also picked up a safety late in the fourth quarter to set the final score. The defense also gave up -8 yards rushing to the Mavericks, so it was pretty complete effort.

Just enjoy, and if we had known it would have been viewed thousands of time, we would have done a better job of cropping out the entertainment center.

As for the offense, it was, wait for it, junior quarterback Malachi Gober who led the way with 217 passing yards and four touchdown. The leading receiver was Johnny Lewis with five catches for 123 yards and a touchdown.

On special teams, North Little Rock kicker Devin Jackson was a perfect 7-of-7 on extra points.

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North Little Rock 51, Fort Smith Southside 7 | Game Sketch

  • What’s next: North Little Rock (9-2) travels to Bentonville (8-2) this Friday in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs.


  • Aug. 27: North Little Rock 38, El Dorado 28 (Scrimmage)

  • Sept. 3: North Little Rock 58, Springdale Har-Ber 28

  • Sept. 10: North Little Rock 14, Fayetteville 7

  • Sept. 17: North Little Rock 41, West Memphis 0

  • Sept. 24: North Little Rock 35, Little Rock Central 6

  • Oct. 1: Conway 38, North Little Rock 10

  • Oct. 8: North Little Rock 62, Little Rock Southwest 14

  • Friday, Oct. 15: North Little Rock 42, Little Rock Catholic 7

  • Friday, Oct. 22: North Little Rock 28, Fort Smith Northside 21

  • Oct. 29: Bryant 24, North Little Rock 12

  • Nov. 5: North Little Rock 41, Cabot 26

  • Friday, Nov. 12: North Little Rock 51, Fort Smith Southside 7 | First round of Class 7A playoffs

  • Friday, Nov. 19 North Little Rock at Bentonville | Second round of Class 7A playoffs

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