A week later, the news wasn’t as bad as Central Arkansas Christian’s Mustangs had feared.
Jack Thomas, the new starting quarterback who went out with a shoulder injury during the First Security Kickoff Classic at War Memorial Stadium against Stuttgart on Aug. 27, apparently did not tear his right labrum and will not require surgery, CAC coach Tommy Shoemaker said Sunday.
"He will probably be week-to-week," Shoemaker said of the junior. "He could be back this week, but we don’t know for sure. He’s going back this week and they’ll look at it, but his rehab has been going well. That’s been a positive.
"People ask me if I’m excited, but I’m not going to get my hopes up too quickly. It looks positive now, but we’ll wait and see. Even when he does get back, I don’t know what that will mean. Right now we plan on going with the guys we’ve got, but he would be a definite bonus if he were able to get back out there."
Chase Dowell replaced Thomas at quarterback last week. Daylan Moore filled in at linebacker.
The Mustangs took a weather-shortened 16-0 win at Little Rock McClellan last week to level their record to 1-1. They’ll play host to Little Rock Christian, also 1-1, Friday.
The Warriors, who run the Pistol offense and Multiple defense, return just two starters on each side of the ball from a team that finished 3-7 last year, including a season-ending 24-14 loss to CAC in 5A-Southwest Conference play. Christian lost three games by a touchdown or less in 2011. After realignment, they are in the 5A-Central, where league coaches picked them to finish fifth, according to Hooten’s Arkansas Football.
The Warriors lost to Hot Springs Lakeside, 41-27, in their season opener at War Memorial and knocked off White Hall last week, 7-6, in a game that was also cut short for weather, this one with 5:45 left before halftime.
"I’m hoping this will be a regular, good ol’ Friday night," Shoemaker said. "Every week’s been different — we played on Monday, then Labor Day, then the game was called. This is your first real normal, so-to-speak, week."
The Mustangs faced the Warriors in 5A-Southwest conference play the last two years late in the season. With CAC’s drop to Class 4A this fall, the two moved their meeting to Week 3.
"We have a good, friendly rivalry, and I think it’s a good game for both schools," Shoemaker said. "It’s always very competitive. They’ve looked good their first two games, and it’ll be a big challenge for us. We’re going to have to be ready to play. I know we’ll get their best effort, and I hope we’ll get ours, too."
At McClellan last week, the Mustangs made their first drive count, covering 81 yards in 15 plays. Dowell hit Beau Barnes for 16 yards to give the Mustangs first-and-goal at the 9. Dowell covered the final eight yards to score with 7:33 left in the first quarter. Beau Barnes’ kick made it 7-0.
After the Lions’ drive stalled at the CAC 12, the Mustangs took over from there and required 10 plays to cover the 88 yards. Dowell hit Marquelle Nelson for the 59-yard score, the third time the two had connected on the drive (earlier completions went for nine and 18 yards). Barnes kicked CAC to a 14-0 lead at 10:14 of the second quarter.
The Mustangs added a safety 14 seconds after halftime when McClellan was flagged for intentional grounding from the end zone. The game was called because of weather seconds later.
In just more than two quarters, the Mustangs bettered the Lions in first downs (9-3), passing yards (159-83), offensive plays (36-17), total yards (183-112) and time of possession (26:10 to 9:50). While the Mustangs netted just 24 yards rushing on 16 attempts, Dowell completed 12 of 20 passes for 159 yards with one interception. Six Mustangs made catches, led by Marquelle Nelson’s three for 86 yards and Josh Holland’s three for 34.
"We’re breaking in a new quarterback, and I thought Chase had a really good night, real solid with what we’re doing," Shoemaker said. "He made some good throws and had some very strong runs. He’s a strong runner. I thought he ran the offense very well for it being his first game to start."
Dowell had never started a game at quarterback.
"He did a nice job, and defensively, I thought other than maybe one breakdown in alignment, we did well, and our kicking game was solid," Shoemaker said. "Beau did a good job keeping them pinned back. It was a good night, a short night, obviously, but I was actually concerned we wouldn’t get to play at all, so I was glad we were able to get a half in and get some Chase some reps, get a win on the scoreboard and get our feet back under us."