Cameron Parker fights off a tackle during the Hornets 35-14 loss to the Wesclin Warriors on September 8.
By Brent Huelsmann
The Nashville Hornets suffered their second loss of the season, as the Wesclin Warriors outscored the Hornets 21-0 in the second half to take a 35-14 victory on September 8. The Hornets are back in action Friday night as they open the conference schedule against Anna-Jonesboro at 7 p.m. Anna-Jonesboro is 3-0 on the season, and defeated Massac County 40-7 in week 2.
Early on in the contest, it looked like a shootout between the two teams. After Wesclin scored a touchdown on their opening possession, the Hornets bounced right back with a touchdown of their own. Starting on their own 24 yard line, the Hornets embarked on a 10 play drive that was capped off on a 19 yard touchdown connection between Cameron Parker and Dalton Novak. An extra point by Colin Laws tied the game at seven late in the first quarter.
It would not stay tied long as Wesclin marched down the field picking up big chunks of yardage on the ground. Wesclin’s next drive took six plays in which Gavin Billbruck carried the ball on all six plays gaining 62 yards, and capping off the drive with a one yard touchdown run. Kaylee Thaler’s second extra point of the game gave the Warriors a 14-7 lead.
Again the Hornets answered with a score of their own. Nashville capitalized on three penalties by Wesclin on the drive to tie the game. The Hornets started their drive on their own 35 yard line, and capped off the 10 play drive with a four yard touchdown run by Jullian Metcalf. Laws extra point, tied the game at 14.
On Wesclin’s next drive Tanner Bergmann would pick off a pass from Wesclin’s Josh DeMage to give the Hornets another chance to score before the break. The Hornets offense could not get a first down, and quickly punted the ball back to the Warriors. On Wesclin’s next play from scrimmage, Billbruck took the ball 63 yards for a touchdown to give Wesclin back the lead. An extra point by Thaler made the score 21-14 with just 1:34 remaining before halftime.
Nashville’s next drive was cut short when Ryan Alvis picked off a pass from Parker to give the Warriors one last drive before the break. After their first play gained no yardage, Bergmann got his second interception of the game, and the score stayed 21-14 at halftime.
As the second half got started, the Hornets got great starting field position, but could not come away with points as the Wesclin defense stepped up getting a big interception deep in their own territory, to get the ball back.
After what looked like what would be a three-and-out by the Warriors offense, a huge penalty changed the momentum of the game. Backed up to their own one yard line, Wesclin was forced to punt from the end zone. During the play, a huge roughing the kicker call gave Wesclin an automatic first down and moved the ball 15 yards. Wesclin would capitalize on the penalty, eat up the clock, and drive the rest of the way down the field, capping the drive with a one yard touchdown run by DeMage. An extra point by Thaler gave Wesclin a 28-14 lead.
After the game coach Stephen Kozuszek talked about the punt. “That was probably the play of the game there.” Kozuszek went on to say “We have to know better. I know he wasn’t trying to rough the kicker, but that is just something we will have to stress. We’re young and I thought our youth showed.”
The Hornets would again come back, moving the ball well between the 20s. For the second consecutive drive, the Hornets would get into the redzone but would not come away with points as they failed to convert a fourth-and-one on the Wesclin 16 yard line.
After forcing Wesclin to punt, the Hornets would have to move quickly in order to come back. Any thoughts of a comeback were quickly put to rest when Tyler Harbison picked off a pass from Parker and returned it into the endzone to put the game away for the Warriors.
The Hornets would then run out the clock on their next drive to end the game. Wesclin moved to 3-0 on the season with the 35-14 win, Nashville fell to 1-2 as they move into conference play.
On the ground the Hornets rushed for 154 yards overall, and were led by Metcalf who finished the game with 97 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries. Parker finished the game with 35 yards, and Jackson Aulds rushed for 22 yards in the loss.
Through the air, Parker finished 15-24 for 145 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Novak led the Hornets with 80 yards and one touchdown receiving in the game. Kozuszek finished with 28 yards receiving, followed by Metcalf with 21 yards receiving, and both Bergmann, and Aulds with nine yards receiving.
Wesclin did most of their damage on the ground, as they finished with 322 yards on the ground, compared to just 35 yards through the air. Bilbruck led the way for the Warriors with 218 yards rushing in the win, and three touchdowns.