The Huntland High School Hornets beat the Mount Pleasant High School Tigers 17-14 at home Friday for their fourth win of the season.
The Hornets led for all but 30 seconds of game time, and they held off a late push from the Tigers to secure the regional victory on homecoming night.
Huntland head football coach Bob Robertson said there were some missed opportunities for his team during the game, but his players performed well overall.
“It’s a huge win for us. I thought our kids played hard. We played really well on defense,” Robertson said. “I thought we left a couple touchdowns out there, but I was proud of our kids for hanging in there and playing hard.”
The Hornets got off to an explosive start as Micah Millraney broke off a 51-yard run to move the ball inside of the Tigers’ 5-yard line. Cameron Reed ran the ball into the end zone on the following play to make it 7-0 after just 29 seconds of play.
The Hornets brought the ball deep into enemy territory on their next drive, but a few penalties would cause the series to stall out before ending in a turnover on downs.
The next two drives for the Hornets would end in lost fumbles as their point total for the game would remain at seven for the rest of the half.
While the Hornets didn’t put up many points in the first few quarters, their defense stepped up to completely shut down the Tigers through the end of the first half.
They led 7-0 at halftime.
The first few drives of the second half would end in punts as the defensive battle continued.
Reed would get the Hornets rolling on offense again with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter as he found a seam and ran 78 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0.
The Tigers would be forced to start at their own 9-yard line on the next drive after a big kick by Huntland’s Abraham Morris. However, the Tigers drove all the way down the field and scored a touchdown to make it 14-7 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Hornets were forced to punt on their next drive, but Morris came through with another big kick as his punt put the Tigers at their own 10-yard line with nine minutes remaining.
The Hornets would force a turnover on downs a few minutes later to give themselves the ball deep in enemy territory.
Kolbi Stewart appeared to score a rushing touchdown for Huntland on the next drive, but the play would be negated by a holding penalty against the Hornets. The Hornets would later make the decision to kick a field goal on fourth-and-long with Morris nailing the 33-yard kick to make it 17-6 with two minutes to play.
“That’s the advantage of having a kicker,” Robertson said. “(Morris) has kicked the ball well for us all year long and he came through in the clutch tonight.”
The Tigers didn’t concede quite yet as they pushed the ball down the field as fast as they could and scored a touchdown with 3.7 seconds remaining to make it a three-point game.
However, the Hornets recovered the ensuing onside kick and took a knee to secure the victory.
Reed had 125 rushing yards for the contest while Stewart added 104 rushing yards and eight receiving yards.
Millraney ran for 73 yards for the day on just four carries.
With the win, the Hornets improved to 4-3 on the season and 1-1 in regional play.
Robertson said that this will just be the beginning for his team with three more key regional contests still coming up.
“This is game one of our four-game playoff stretch here at the end and Moore County is next,” Robertson said.
The Hornets will have a bye on Friday before returning to action on Oct. 18 for a game at Moore County High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.