Football Hornets pick up first postseason win in 20 years
The Huntland High School Hornets beat the Hollow Rock-Bruceton Tigers 28-0 at home Friday in the first round of the playoffs.
The Hornets’ defense shut down the Tigers for most of the game while their offense overcame a slow start to pull away in the second half as they picked up the first postseason win for the program since 1999.
Huntland head football coach Bob Robertson said that advancing in the playoffs is what every team works for over the course of the year.
“That’s why the kids play, to get into the playoffs and win ballgames,” Robertson said. “This year, our kids were able to come through and win one.”
Robertson said his team didn’t play its best game due to a series of untimely turnovers in the first half, but it was still enough to keep the season alive.
“It was a win. I thought we left a lot of points out there by fumbling twice in the end zone and getting inside the 20 one other time and not scoring, but I thought our kids hung in there,” he said.
The first of those fumbles would come on the opening drive when Kolbi Stewart broke off a long run. The ball would slip out of Stewart’s hands just before arriving at the end zone which gave the ball to the Tigers.
After the defense forced a quick three-and-out, Stewart would capitalize on his next chance with the ball as he ran 30 yards for a touchdown to give the Hornets a 7-0 lead five minutes into the game.
The special teams unit for Huntland got the ball right back when the Tigers fumbled away the ensuing kickoff. However, the Hornets would give the ball right back a few plays later with another fumble that rolled into the end zone before being recovered by the Tigers.
After a few unsuccessful drives by both teams, the Hornets scored another touchdown on a run by Stewart with less than nine minutes remaining in the first half. The score gave the Hornets a 14-0 edge.
The Tigers drove deep into Huntland’s territory late in the half, but the Hornets were able to force a turnover on downs to get the ball back with 1:39 remaining in the quarter.
The Hornets worked the ball down the field in the final moments of the half. However, an interception in the red zone with three seconds remaining would halt the scoring attempt.
They led 14-0 at halftime.
The Tigers opened the second half with a six-minute drive which would end in a turnover on downs at midfield.
The Hornets capitalized on the good field position by working toward the end zone before ending the drive with a third and final touchdown run by Stewart. The run gave the Hornets a 21-0 lead with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Cameron Reed put the game out of reach with the first play of the fourth quarter as he ran 44 yards for a touchdown to put the lead at 28-0.
The Tigers made one more drive into Huntland territory before the Hornets forced a turnover on downs with 3:18 remaining to seal the win. The Hornets ran out the clock from there as they won by 28.
The defense of the Hornets limited the Tigers to just 142 yards of offense on 49 plays as they were able to consistently create pressure in the backfield.
“Our defense has played well for the last four or five weeks, I think. We stepped up and I thought we played really well tonight,” Robertson said. “We were able to dig in and get stops.”
Stewart finished the game with 242 rushing yards on 19 carries.
Reed had 79 rushing yards on eight carries for the day.
Bryson Turner carried the ball four times for 46 yards while Bryson Turner had two carries for 15 yards and one catch for 24 yards.
Payton Reed had 24 yards passing and 14 yards rushing for the contest.
With the win, the Hornets improved to 8-3 on the season.
They will next play Friday at home against McEwen High School in the second round of the Class 1A playoff bracket. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The McEwen Warriors also enter the game with a record of 8-3 after beating Mt. Pleasant 49-21 at home on Friday.
Robertson said that his players will have some time to celebrate their win before returning to action on Monday to prepare for the Warriors.
“They’re going to enjoy it Saturday and Sunday, and then we’re going to come in on Monday ready to get to work on the next one,” he said.