Another trip to the state championship game wasn’t in the cards for North Little Rock, as the ‘Cats lost, 28-13, to Bryant last Friday in the Class 7A semifinals.
North Little Rock has played for the state title every year since 2016 and has been the longest run of continuous success at the school ever.
They did that with three coaches — Jamie Mitchell, J.R. Eldridge and Randy Sandeur — at the helm with Sandefur taking over the program this season after 38 years of being an assistant coach at his alma mater.
Last Friday, it was conference rival Bryant, again, in the semifinals and it was the eighth game between the two schools in the last four years.
What was different about last Friday, is the previous three seasons, the two teams met up in the state championship game and they were all wins for the Hornets as North Little Rock is now 1-7 in those eight games.
Last Friday, things got off to a promising start as North Little Rock jumped out to a 10-0 lead on the strength of a Malachi Gober touchdown run of four yards in the first quarter and kicker Devin Jackson nailed a 41 yard field goal with 11:02 remaining in the second quarter.
Bryant responded with two touchdowns and it was 14-10 at the half.
North Little Rock was first on the scoreboard in the third quarter when Jackson hit a 38-yard field goal with 3:43 remaining.
But it was all Bryant in the fourth quarter as the Hornets had a touchdown reception, then a defensive score off an interception return with 1:17 remaining in the game to set the final margin.
On the other side of the bracket, Fayetteville rallied to beat Conway, 29-21, in a wild finish that saw the Wampus Cats winning 21-20 with just 8 seconds remaining in the game.
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Player of the game: Quarterback Malachi Gober passed for 74 yards and cracked the 2,000 yard passing mark with 2,027 yards this season.
Kicker shoutout: Kicker Devin Jackson was a perfect 1-of-1 on extra point attempts and also made two field goals.
What’s next: Basketball.
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 24, Bentonville 21 | Second round of Class 7A playoffs
Friday, Nov. 26: Bryant 28, North Little Rock 13 | Semifinals of the Class 7A playoffs
Carlos Gordon, Arkansas Tech
Tobias Enlow, Central Arkansas
Dwain Hunt, Central Arkansas
Jaden Salley, Central Arkansas
Dennis Carroll, Harding
Frederick O’Donald, Henderson State
Jordan Owens, Henderson State
Mason Carlan, Air Force
Slayten Clark, Dodge City Community College (Kansas)
Chris Jefferson, Dodge City Community College (Kansas)
Damon Ball, Jackson State University
Drew Martin, Memphis
Brandon Thomas, Memphis
Tony Collier, New Mexico
Oscar Addaway, North Texas State
David Chapple, North Texas State
Kareame Cotton, Northwestern State
Jaylon Glosson, Northwestern State
Erin Smith, SMU
K.J. Hill, L.A. Chargers
Martrell Spaight, Mass. Pirates (Indoor football league)
Have any additions to this list? Email us at Arkansas@substack.com