Bradley leads Raiders to second round

Nettleton's Koby Bradley (3) cuts toward the sideline on a 39-yard touchdown run Friday during the third quarter of the Raiders' 33-14 victory over Hot Springs in the Class 5A state playoffs. Bradley scored four touchdowns.

JONESBORO — While Hot Springs managed to contain Nettleton quarterback Cameron Scarlett with the exception of one run, the Trojans had no answer for Raider running back Koby Bradley.

Bradley scored four touchdowns while rushing for 281 yards on 26 carries Friday night as the Raiders remained unbeaten with a 33-14 victory in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs at Raider Field.

Nettleton (11-0) will host Little Rock Christian (9-2) in the quarterfinals next Friday. The Warriors took down Vilonia 53-29 on the road in the first round.

Bradley’s first two carries covered 58 yards, the second resulting in a 52-yard touchdown run that put the Raiders in front for good only 55 seconds into the game. He scored again on a 22-yard run with 2:39 left in the first quarter to give Nettleton a 13-0 lead.

“It looked like they were dead set on stopping Cameron in the running game. It opened up some creases,” Nettleton coach Steven Hampton said. “They were blitzing and it’s kind of feast or famine. They’re going to get us some, but if we block down and kick out, crease it, then there’s a possibility of big runs and you saw some of those tonight.”

After Hot Springs (5-6) scored early in the second quarter, taking advantage of a Nettleton onside kick that failed to travel 10 yards, the Raiders scored twice more to build a 27-7 halftime lead.

Bradley sprinted 65 yards to the end zone with 10:21 left in the second quarter. Scarlett broke a 35-yard touchdown run at the 2:56 mark, losing his shoes as he weaved through the Trojans on the way to the end zone.

Nettleton was unable to capitalize on a blocked punt in the third quarter, but the Raiders mounted a touchdown drive on their third possession. Bradley broke outside and coasted to the end zone on a 39-yard run that gave the Raiders a 33-7 lead.

Bradley left the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury that has been a problem for a while, Hampton said.

“It’s kind of been nagging all year. It happened earlier in the season,” Hampton said. “It’s something right now where we just try pain management as best we can. It’s something he plays through right now. He keeps getting treatment as much as possible.”

Hot Springs closed the scoring with 11:52 left in the game on backup quarterback Matt Contreras’ 24-yard pass to Jayveon Felton. The Raiders kept the Trojans off the scoreboard the rest of the night, with Kylan Goodlow intercepting a pass with 2:57 remaining to end Hot Springs’ last possession.

Scarlett finished with 78 yards rushing on nine carries. He also completed 6-of-12 passes for 43 yards.

While the Trojans were able to make a couple of big plays, they struggled to handle Nettleton’s defensive front.

“It didn’t seem like they had an answer for Jordan Pigram. It seemed like he made a lot of plays tonight, was in on a lot of tackles,” Hampton said. “I thought Blake Brown played really well at linebacker. I thought our defensive front played really well.”

With Friday’s victory, the Raiders matched the school record for victories in a season, equaling the totals of the 1997 and 2017 teams. Nettleton is 11-0 for the first time in school history.

“We came out running the ball pretty well and then they kind of started blitzing quite a bit, caught us a few times, and we played a little sloppy at times with penalties and different stuff,” Hampton said. “But we’re glad to get out of here and we get to move on to the second round.”