Central Arkansas Christian’s football Mustangs survived a shootout with Bauxite last week and may have found a new weapon for the rest of the season.
Tommy Shoemaker’s team improved to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the 7-4A after the 62-58 win over the Miners.
Malvern will visit Mustang Mountain on Friday for a 7 p.m. kick.
Against Bauxite, CAC put up more than 700 yards of offense and got the defensive stop it had to have to secure the win.
"Every win’s a good win," Shoemaker said. "We didn’t get many stops on defense, but we got one when we had to have it.
"I thought we’d be able to move the ball. We thought they were pretty good on offense. Their quarterback and wide receiver were really good players, and they made plays. I’m sure they didn’t think they’d score 58 and lose."
Quarterback Jack Thomas completed 31 of 44 passes for 411 yards and three touchdowns and added a rushing TD. Senior Kyler Simmons had his coming-out party, rushing 12 times for 165 yards and three scores; sophomore Braylon Harris earned 128 yards and one TD on 13 carries and also threw for a touchdown to Adam Weiner.
"Lots of people played well — Jack, Stephen Flanigan, Weiner, Jack Partlow, Braylon — but probably the guy who stood out the most was Kyler Simmons," Shoemaker said. "He made some big plays for us and broke some big runs. Obviously, he gives us some depth and another threat.
"We’ll definitely try to get him on the field a little more on offense to help Braylon. He’s a different type of runner; they’re a good combination for us. Last week at Arkadelphia he returned kickoff for a touchdown and showed he could make some big plays, so we felt like if he gets out in the open field, nobody could catch him. That pretty much held true."
CAC scored first but trailed after the Miners matched the touchdown and made the two-point conversion. But the Mustangs built a 28-14 lead that was cut to 28-22 at the break, and they scored on the first possession of the second half.
"They kept catching up with us and we had to keep scoring," Shoemaker said.
Malvern is 6-1 overall and 4-0 in conference play after a 56-27 win over Arkansas Baptist last week. The Leopards have conference wins over Bauxite, Pulaski Robinson, Ashdown and Baptist. They’ll face a tough two weeks to close the regular season starting next week at home against Nashville and will follow at top-ranked Arkadelphia on Nov. 8.
Malvern finished 9-3 last year, tied with CAC for third in the conference, after losing those last two games. The Leopards reached the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs, ending their season with a 32-28 loss to Warren. Four offensive starters returned from that team to run the Spread offense for new coach Mike Scarbrough; six starters are back for the 4-3 defense.
The Leopards won 12 games two years ago.
"Malvern is always very talented and usually one of the bigger teams up front," Shoemaker said. "They’re big and athletic, and their coaches do a good job with them. They’ve got a lot of speed. We haven’t had that many common opponents, but we’ve seen them on film plenty."
The Leopards have a new coach this year after John Fogelman moved to Little Rock Catholic in the offseason. Shoemaker said the Leopards were a little more aggressive on defense since the change.
"They bring a lot more pressure and play more man coverage," he said. "They used to be more of a zone team. Offensively, they’re not much different."
He said his team would secure a berth to the Class 4A state playoffs with one more win, and any more would only better their seed.