BRYANT - The North Little Rock Charging Wildcats used a solid running game to fend off a salty Bryant Hornet team 28-7 Friday night in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs.
North Little Rock only scored one passing touchdown during the game, and relied heavily on senior running back Deion Tidwell in the running game to get the job done.
Tidwell finished the night with 40 carries for 329 yards and a touchdowns to lead the Charging Wildcats to the victory.
"I'm just proud of how our kids responded in the second half," said North Little Rock head coach Brad Bolding. "We made a lot of mistakes in the first half, but we came out in the second and hit them hard. We ran right at them and we felt like with our off-season program and how physical our kids are, it really paid off for us."
North Little Rock got on the board first with 1:24 remaining in the opening quarter when quarterback Heath Land connected with K.J. Hill for a 28-yard score. Sandy Burks successful PAT gave the Charging Wildcats the early 7-0 lead.
Both teams would miss field goals before heading into halftime.
Bryant got their only score of the night on the third play of the second half when Brushawn Hunter ran it in from 70-yards out. The successful PAT tied the game up at 7-all with 11:09 to play in the third.
North Little Rock made a quarterback change, and Payton Holmes scored the next two touchdowns. His first came from 18-yards out with 2:37 remaining in the third quarter, and again with 8:45 remaining in the game from two-yards out.
"[Payton] was our quarterback last year so we could get him in," said Bolding. "They were keying so much on Tidwell that we felt like we could get some different looks with some read stuff."
Tidwell ran it in from eight-yards out with 2:50 remaining in the game for North Little Rock's final score.
Bolding gave his thoughts on Tidwell's performance as well.
"It was really unique for him because he's been blocking for two SEC tailbacks during his career," said Bolding. "Now he has an opportunity since Fabian Lewis and Juan Day got hurt. You couldn't ask for a better night for him, and he will be the first to tell you that the offensive linemen opened the holes for him."
Tidwell spoke about his performance as well.
"This all is going to my offensive linemen," said Tidwell. "Without them I wouldn't be there. Glory goes to God also always. We just want to win a championship now, and we are going to continue to grind it out until we win it all."
Tidwell said he is not receiving many recruiting looks right now, but that certainly could change following his big performance in this game.
North Little Rock advances to face Cabot next Friday night in the Class 7A semi-finals.
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