All the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats did on Friday in their season opening 55-13 win over Lake Hamilton was make plays—big plays. Touchdowns on the ground, through the air and on special teams helped the Charging Wildcats dominate a traditional 6A power.
From the opening snap, the Charging Wildcats showed dominance. With just 12 seconds elapsed on the clock, and on the first play from scrimmage Khalil Gulley snagged an interception from his defensive end spot and took the ball 13 yards for a touchdown.
The offense got in on the act later in the first quarter as Heath Land threw two touchdown passes before the first quarter ended. At the 5:15 mark, Heath Land hit Lindsey on a 70-yard touchdown pass. Two and a half minutes later Land hit K.J. Hill from two yards out to give NLR a 20-0 lead after the first quarter of play.
The second quarter was just as brutal. Juan Day took his turn at the big play at the 8:59 mark when he ran 89 yards for a touchdown on his third straight carry of the series. Junior running back Fabian Lewis followed in Day’s footsteps with a58-yard run of his own. After another Land to Hill 33-yard screen pass with 35 seconds to go in the half, the Charging Wildcats took a 41-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Hill added a 99-yard kick return in the third quarter and Deon Tidwell had a game capping score from three yards out.
While the win appeared on the surface to be nearly perfect, head coach Brad Bolding said after the game that his team’s performance was far from perfect.
"We still have a lot of things to fix," Bolding said. "And we’ll get them fixed."
Day’s run was the highlight of the night. After losing two yards on first down back to his own three, Day sliced through the Lake Hamilton defense for eight yard so the 11 to set up third down with four yards to go.
In front of Arkansas assistant coaches Barry Lunney, Jr., and Michael Smith, Day took his third straight handoff and cut left, and found an opening. Darting to the sidelines, he turned up the speed and scored.
"He’s an SEC back," Bolding said.
The presence of Arkansas coaches was not lost on Day acknowledging that he saw them on the sidelines.
When asked if he wanted to make up for losing two yards on first down, Day said, "They got me pretty hard on that play."
The Charging Wildcat defense made plays two. Peyton Holmes who moved from quarterback to safety got a pair of interceptions, one was run back for a touchdown. The score was called back for an illegal block.
The Charging Wildcats take on an out of state opponent for the second straight year when they take on South Panola, Miss. on Friday. Last season North Little Rock traveled to Longview, Texas their only loss in the regular season.
Bolding said at the time the game was an eye opener.
"They do things differently," Bolding said at the time. "We saw what high school atmosphere, a hostile environment really is."