HOPE – The Hope Bobcats football program continues to rebuild despite a rocky start to the COVID-19 colored season, putting up a hard-fought effort in the Cats’ home opener against Nashville here.
Facing a Nashville team that comes off an 11-2 season last year with 21 lettermen returning and 14 starters back, the Bobcats showed some versatility despite a 42-20 loss.
Bobcat Head Coach Phillip Turner was pleased with his team’s tenacity.
“I’m very proud of the kids’ effort last Friday,” Turner said. “They never gave up, and they played to the end; and, we saw some things we really like from some unexpected players.”
Junior Quarterback Ammorrion Dempsey led the charge for the Cats with both running and passing attacks that kept Hope in positive yardage for the night, beginning with a first quarter toss on third and five to junior Wide Receiver Erik Haynie. Haynie rambled for 11 yards, breaking one tackle before he was forced out of bounds inside Nashville territory.
The Cats’ fortunes improved in the second quarter as Dempsey handed off on the left side to junior Running Back Kearon Brown on second and 11 at the Hope 35-yard line. The Nashville defense penetrated on the left side, threatening a loss, but Brown broke free and cut across the grain for 23 yards before he was brought down on the Nashville side of the field.
Still working in the second quarter from their own 15-yard line, the Bobcats put together a first down as Demsey faked to senior Running Back Kenneth Anderson, then shot a 10-yard liner to senior Wide Receiver Chelerome McFadden to move the sticks.
Demspey scrambled on fourth and four at the Nashville 45-yard line before launching a 36-yard toss to senior Wide Receiver Ryan Walker to take Hope deep into Nashville territory. That set up the Cats’ first score of the night on a 16-yard lob from Demspey into the right end zone corner for McFadden.
The Bobcat defense put pressure on Nashville in the third quarter to force one of two turnovers for the Scrappers on the night. With Nashville threatening on the Hope five-yard line, the Scrappers ran a swing right pass, which Dempsey read from the center of the backfield. Crossing through the end zone, Dempsey trailed the overthrown ball near the corner where he snared it for the interception.
Hope’s biggest score of the night came on first down in the fourth quarter, with the Cats working from the Nashville 42-yard line. With Dempsey taking the snap, he handed off to Brown, who split the seam up the middle of the field for a 42-yard TD. Brown put another six points on the board late in the fourth to round out the Cats’ night at 20.
The loss drops the Bobcats to 0-2 in non-conference play to take on the Ashdown Panthers Sept. 11 at Hammons Stadium at 7:30 p.m. COVID-19 protocols for Hammons Stadium permit only 66 percent of stadium seating capacity to be used. Other protocols include:
–Required face mask which covers both nose and mouth will be worn at all times while on HHS grounds. Persons not adhering to the face mask protocol will be escorted from the stadium.
–Alternate row seating will be marked, and must be observed.
–Families may sit together, but must observe social distancing.
–Fans will be allowed to stand along the field fence line, but must observe social distancing, whether seated or not.
–Students in sixth grade and under must be accompanied by an adult to be admitted to the game.
–Foot traffic at Hammons Stadium will be directed in one-way lanes.
–Home game general admission seating reflecting the 66 percent capacity limit will be sold on a first come basis at the 18th Street box office at Hammons Stadium ONLY beginning at 5:30 p.m. on game day. Tickets are $5 each, and AAA season passes will be recognized within the 66 percent capacity limit.
–Gates will be closed after 66 percent capacity is reached; but, additional tickets may be sold should attendance drop below 66 percent capacity during the game.
–No athletes or staff members not participating in the game will be allowed free seating, per 66 percent limitation.
–No visiting team band or cheerleaders will be in attendance.
–Participating Hope varsity players, band members and cheerleaders will be allowed to purchase two tickets, which may be bought in advance Monday-Wednesday each week.
–Concessions will be operated during home games, but only sealed or pre-packaged food items will be sold.
Contact Co-Athletic Director Phillip Turner or Co-Athletic Director Susan Powers at 870-777-3451 for other information.
The current Bobcat varsity football schedule is as follows:
Sept. 11 – Ashdown, Here, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 – Prescott, Away, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 – DeQueen, Away, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 – Hot Springs, HOMECOMING, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 – Open date.
Oct. 16 – Lakeside, Here, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 – Camden, Away, 7 p.m.
Oct. 30 – Texarkana, Here, 7 p.m.
Nov. 6 – Magnolia, Away, 7 p.m.