By Brent Huelsmann
With all of the distractions of Homecoming, the Hornets stayed focused and defeated the Pinckneyville Panthers 13-6 in a close game on Friday Night. The Hornets were coming off their first loss of the season, while Pinckneyville was coming off a win against Anna-Jonesboro.
The Hornets got off to a fast start, as they marched down the field on their first drive to score a touchdown. The Hornets started their drive on their own 37 yard line but methodically worked their way down, overcoming penalties on their way to the end zone. The 14 play drive was capped off by a touchdown run from Hunter Schultze. Jaris Dalman added the extra point for the Hornets to make the score 7-0.
The defense of the Hornets shut down the Pinckneyville offense on their drives, allowing the Hornets to be in position to score again. Nashville's next score came following a big play in which Andrew Kash found Royce Newman for 51 yard setting the Hornets up first and goal from the two yard line. Kyle Schnitker would punch the ball across the goal line on the very next play to push the lead to 13-0 right before halftime.
Taking the second half kickoff, the Hornets launched another long drive, which started at their own 9 yard line. The Hornets moved down the field using a balanced running attack, as Schnitker, Kash, and Schultze all had multiple carries. Nashville was unable to come away with points after the 15 play drive stalled at the 4 yard line of Pinckneyville.
The Panthers swung momentum back their way after a Hornets turnover, gave Pinckneyville the ball around midfield. Five plays later Panthers quarterback, Clayton Houghland ran the ball in from 13 yards out to cut the Hornets lead to 13-6. Pinckneyville would miss the extra point, keeping the Hornets up by a touchdown.
Pinckneyville would mount one last drive to try and tie the game, but the Hornets defense stepped up once again. With Pinckneyville facing a fourth and five from the Nashville 13 yard line, Ethan Reid came down with an interception. A long first down run by Dalman, secured the win for the Hornets who moved to 6-1 on the season, and clinched a spot in the postseason.
Schultze led the team on the ground this week totaling 72 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown. Schnitker added 60 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown, and Dalman averaged 10 yards per carry with 50 yards on just 5 carries. Through the air Kash finished 7-11 with 134 yards. Newman finished with 2 catches for 58 yards, and Reid finished with 3 catches for 22 yards.
“It's a total team effort week in and week out, I am truly blessed, with this coaching stafff and this group of kids, every week we find a way” said Coach Kuhn after the hard fought win. When asked about the goals for the team after clinching the playoffs Coach Kuhn said “ just play as best we can next week at DuQuoin.”
The Hornets face a big conference matchup next week as they travel to DuQuoin to face the Indians. DuQuoin is 4-3 on the season, but 3-1 in conference with their only loss coming to Sparta. Game time is 7:00 p.m.
The Hornets will end the season at home against Columbia. The game will be “Senior Night” for Nashville.