The Huntland High School Hornets lost to the Moore County Raiders 31-21 at home Friday for their fourth loss of the season.
The teams traded scores for most of the day with the Hornets keeping the contest close before taking a loss in the regional rivalry matchup.
Huntland head football coach Bob Robertson said his team played well overall but made some mistakes which were difficult to recover from.
“I thought our kids played really hard. We had a couple mistakes here or there and some penalties that hurt us. It was hard to overcome,” Robertson said. “Those are things we have to clean up.”
The Hornets opened the contest with an 11-play, 61-yard drive which ended in a touchdown run by Kolbi Stewart to give Huntland a 7-0 lead with five minutes left in the first quarter.
The Huntland defense stood strong on its opening drive as the Raiders were forced to punt after gaining just one first down.
However, Moore’ County’s special teams unit made a big play on the ensuing drive with a blocked punt that gave the Raiders the ball deep in Huntland’s territory. The Raiders scored a touchdown one play later to tie the score at 7-7 with 11:34 left in the first half.
The Hornets got the ball inside Moore County’s 20-yard line, but a touchdown run by Stewart was nullified by a holding penalty, and the drive would later end in a turnover on downs.
The Raiders got a long touchdown pass a few plays later to take a 14-7 lead with five minutes remaining in the half.
After consecutive drives that ended in punts, the Hornets got the ball back with less than two minutes to play in the half and quickly moved the ball into enemy territory.
The drive ended in another touchdown run for Stewart as he sprinted into the end zone to tie the score with 31 seconds left in the second quarter.
The game was tied at 14-14 at halftime.
The Raiders started the second half with the ball and appeared to move it down to Huntland’s goal line on a pass play, but the Hornets’ defense was able to rip the ball out of the receiver’s hands for a fumble recovery at their 2-yard line.
However, the ensuing drive would end in a punt, and the Raiders would get a long touchdown run on their next play from scrimmage as they took a 21-14 lead with five minutes left in the third quarter.
The Hornets wouldn’t be deterred as a combination of Bryson Johnson and Stewart methodically worked the ball down the field on their next drive. The series concluded in Stewart’s third and final touchdown run of the day to tie the score at 21-21 with 51 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The tie would last for just 24 seconds as the Raiders scored two plays into their next drive to take a 28-21 lead just before the end of the period.
The Hornets brought the ball into Moore County’s territory to start the fourth quarter, but a fumble would end the drive at the 30-yard line.
With the Raiders driving deep into Huntland’s territory later in the fourth quarter, the Hornets’ defense appeared to come up with a big stop on fourth down to get the ball back. However, the Hornets would fumble the ball back to Moore County one play later with just three minutes remaining.
The Raiders kicked a field goal on their ensuing drive to make it a 10-point game with 47 seconds left.
The Hornets were unable to score again in the limited time remaining as they took a loss by 10 points.
Stewart finished the game with 38 carries for 296 yards as well as one catch for four yards.
Bryson Johnson caught three passes for 50 yards and carried the ball 18 times for 67 yards.
Payton Reed completed four of his five passes on the day for a total of 54 yards.
Robertson said that the last two games of the season will be pivotal for the Hornets as they attempt to make a push for the playoffs.
“We’ve got two games we’ve got to win to get into the playoffs,” he said. “If we get in the playoffs, we’re good enough to win some games.”
With the loss, the Hornets moved to 4-4 on the season and 1-2 in regional play.
They will next play Friday at Cornersville High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The Hornets can clinch a playoff spot on Friday if they win versus Cornersville and if Richland beats Moore County in another game set for Friday.