The Huntland High School Hornets lost to the Fayetteville City High School Tigers 20-14 on the road Friday for their second loss of the season.
The Hornets took an early lead, but the Tigers rallied past them in the second half of the regional contest after the Hornets lost a few key players to injuries.
Huntland head football coach Bob Robertson said that his team did well in playing a close game against the currently unbeaten Tigers.
“I thought our kids played hard. We played well at times and we had some slip-ups at times,” Robertson said. “Considering the kids that got hurt and the kids we had to put in for them, I was proud of my team overall.”
The Hornets got deep into Fayetteville territory on the first drive of the game, but the Tigers forced a fumble on the drive and returned it a long way to flip the field. The Hornets would get the ball right back a few plays later when the defense forced a fumble which was recovered by Garrett Jernigan.
The Hornets made another deep drive after that with this one ending in a touchdown run by Kolbi Stewart to make it 7-0 near the start of the second quarter.
The Hornets got the ball back again shortly after and went on a 72-yard scoring drive to make it 14-0 with five minutes remaining in the first half. The drive would end in another short touchdown run by Stewart.
The Tigers got on the board with a long touchdown pass less than a minute later to make it 14-7.
The Hornets led 14-7 at halftime.
The Tigers started the second half with the ball, and they quickly drove down the field and scored a game-tying touchdown with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The offense of the Hornets was impacted in the third quarter when running backs Stewart and Bryson Turner both left the game with apparent leg injuries. Stewart and Turner also play prominent defensive positions for the Hornets which forced personnel to be shuffled around on that side of the ball.
“That always hurts,” Robertson said. “We’ve told the kids that they’re one play away from playing. That’s what we’ve got to go with right now.”
The contest would remain tied until the fourth quarter when the Tigers broke off another long touchdown pass to make it 20-14 with 10:51 left on the game clock.
After both teams had drives which ended in punts, the Hornets got the ball back with 4:25 remaining at their own 18-yard line.
The Hornets were able to make it inside of the red zone in the final minute with the help of a few timely completions by quarterback Payton Reed for first downs.
However, the Hornets’ drive would stall at the Fayetteville 12-yard line as they turned the ball over on downs with 50 seconds remaining and took the loss by six.
Cameron Reed rushed for 159 yards in the contest and caught two passes for another 15 yards.
Stewart ran for 48 yards in addition to scoring the two rushing touchdowns for the Hornets.
Payton Reed completed five of his seven passes for the day for a total of 85 yards. His longest completion of the day was a 33-yard pass to Micah Millraney.
Robertson said his players will need to move past this result quickly as they prepare for the next matchup on their schedule.
“That one’s over with. We’re getting ready for Cascade starting Monday,” Robertson said.
With the loss, the Hornets moved to 1-2 on the season and 0-1 in regional play.
They will next play Friday at Cascade High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.