Hope wins first game in three seasons Friday

Bobcats hang on to defeat Hot Springs 26-20 in thriller

By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
There was definitely a Happy Homecoming in the air at Hope High School on Friday night as the Bobcats held on to defeat Hot Springs 26-20 to claim their first regular season victory in the past three years.
Keyed by three touchdown passes from quarterback Hunter Hellums to Senior WR Nikorean Muldro, and a timely third-period fumble recovery on defense by Jonathan Mendoza, the Bobcats were able to rebound from a 13-0 early deficit, and then, later repeal a comeback attempt by the resurgent Trojans.
A game of peaks and valleys; the Trojans got off to a 12-0 lead in the first quarter, and appeared to be threatening for a third touchdown, when Hope came up with the first of three key stops with six seconds left in the period.
Hot Springs was threatening to go ahead 18-0, when their drive stalled at Hope’s 5-yard line, then Hellums stunned the crowd and the surprised Trojans throwing out of his own end zone, hooking up Muldro for a 95-yard touchdown pass, and suddenly the first period ended, not 18-0 in favor of the Trojans as it appeared, but 12-6 with Hope seizing the momentum.
From there, a complete reversal of fortune occurred.
After dominating much of the first quarter, the Trojans failed to score a point in the second quarter, then Hope got another big play, when Jaloni Davis ran back a Hot Springs punt 41-yards for a TD with four minutes before halftime. With a successful PAT, Hope went into the intermission with a 13-12 lead.
With Hot Springs stalling again on office, Mendoza came up with a prized fumble recovery in Trojan territory at the 32-yard line in the third period, and the opportunistic Bobcats capitalized immediately with Hellums hitting Muldro again for another TD pass, giving Hope a 19-12 advantage.
Before the third period ended, the Trojans gave up the ball on downs a third time in the game, and after a long run by 14-yard dash by Davis, Hellums connected with Muldro for a third TD strike from 25-yards, which increased the Bobcats’ lead to 26-12 going into the final period.
However, Hope had its own turnover deep in its own end with five minutes left in the game, and the Trojans scored their own touchdown to tighten the contest at 28-20, and after Hope failed to move the ball on its next possession, Hot Springs had on last shot at tie with one-minute remaining and the ball resting at Hope’s 34-yard line.
The Trojans, however, didn’t move a yard in four downs, giving the ball back to the Bobcats, who then ran out the clock for the victory.

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