Lane Henderson picked off a pass and races down field during the Hornets 35-14 win over Sparta on September 22.
By Brent Huelsmann
The Hornet football team picked up their first conference win of the season, and second win overall as they defeated the Sparta Bulldogs 35-14. The Hornets moved their record to 2-3 on the season, as they get ready to travel to take on the Carterville Lions Friday night at 7 p.m. The Lions were defeated by Anna-Jonesboro 41-7 in week 5 and hold a 3-2 record overall, and a 1-1 conference record.
The defenses stood firm for the majority of the first quarter, but the Hornet offense finally broke through and scored with 4:36 left in the first quarter when Cameron Parker bulldozed his way in from the one yard line. Colin Laws would add the extra point to give the Hornets a 7-0 lead over Sparta.
Sparta would come back on the first play of the second quarter, as Jonathan Williams scored on a 16 yard run. Sparta would miss the two point conversion, and trailed 7-6.
The Hornets would get the ball back on their next drive, and ran the ball down the field for another score. Jullian Metcalf was the big gainer on the drive, as he ran for 45 yards, and set the Hornets up with first and goal from the one. Again Parker would bulldoze his way in for another score. Another extra point by Laws would give the Hornets a 14-6 lead.
After the Hornets’ defense held firm, Nashville would get another score from Parker to put the Hornets up 21-6. The Hornets needed just seven plays to drive 62 yards for the touchdown. Parker would score on a 18 yard run, his third touchdown run of the first half.
The Hornets would get the next score of the game, as Metcalf scored from four yards out to put the Hornets up 27-6 with 1:53 left in the third quarter. The extra point by Laws gave the Hornets a 28-6 lead.
Sparta would score their final touchdown of the game early in the fourth, and cut the Hornets lead to 28-14. That would be as close as the Bulldogs would get the rest of the way. After a Hornets punt, Sparta’s Carlos Keen would be picked off by Nashville’s Lane Henderson to set Nashville up with great field position. A four play drive ensued, capped off by a four yard touchdown from Metcalf, that put any thought of a comeback to bed, and the Hornets went on for a 35-14 win.
After giving up 603 yards on the ground to Anna-Jonesboro, the Hornets defense stepped up in the run game, and gave up just 41 yards to the Bulldogs. The Hornets would give up 136 yards through the air, but picked off two passes, one by Henderson, and another by Tabor Kozuszek. Nashville would also notch their first sack of the season, as Issac Sexe got to the quarterback late in the fourth quarter.
After the game, coach Steven Kozuszek talked about the defense. “We really tried to work on corralling them. We knew their one strength would be their speed, so we worked on keeping contain on the outside, and for the most part we did a great job. Probably the biggest takeaway from defense is that we just can’t let people behind us. We got get in our pass drops and we have to bat the ball down instead of tipping it in the air. Too many plays we let them have on tipped balls.”
On the offensive side, the Hornets rushed for 403 yards, 207 of which came from Parker. Parker finished with three rushing touchdowns in the game. Metcalf also was well over 100 yards, as he finished with 135 yards on 21 carries, two of which were touchdowns. Jackson Aulds ran seven times for 50 yards, while Kozuszek ran the ball once for 11 yards. Through the air, the Hornets had just 50 yards passing, as Parker completed four passes in the win. Two Hornets caught passes for Nashville as Dalton Novak caught two passes for 18 yards, and Metcalf caught two passes for 32 yards. One of the lone downsides in the game, was the penalties. The Hornets committed 11 penalties for 90 yards in the win, and coach Kozuszek talked about it after the game.
“Anytime we would cross midfield, it was just flag after flag, and there is nothing you can do about it. You just have to line up and go hard the next play. We had two touchdowns called back, but I thought the whole game we controlled the line of scrimmage. We thought going into the game that we would have luck with out inside trap, and our counter plays, and we did. Our line did a great job of getting a push, and our backs did a good job of running in space.”
The Hornets are now 2-3 on the season, and play at Carterville this week, before returning home to face Pinckneyville in the Homecoming game on October 6.