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Hornets Tame Mustangs; Advance to Second Round

Playoff football returned to Nashville on Saturday. The Hornets were tasked with the Mendon-Unity Mustangs. Nashville (9-1) is ranked #6 in the Class 2A playoff bracket this season. A Nolan Heggemeier interception put the Hornets at the Unity 42 yard line early on with a prime chance to score first, and it eventually happened at the hands of a three yard burst from senior running back, Connor Gladson. Although they scored first, the Hornets’ explosive offense fell victim to two fumbles on consecutive drives. Mendon Unity would eventually tie the game at seven apiece going into the second quarter. 

Nashville would find their footing in frame two, as Isaac Turner and Ian Blazier both would find themselves in the endzone courtesy of rushing touchdowns. Leading 21-7 just before the half, the Hornets allowed a touchdown on the final play of the first half which let the Mustangs pull back within a touchdown going into the final 24 minutes of play. 

Seven points would be as close as Unity would get. Blazier rushed into the endzone from 23 yards out for his second touchdown of the game with 8:35 left in the third. Looking to keep the momentum on their side, the Hornets dove into their bag of tricks in the form of an onside kick, which was recovered by Turner. Exactly a minute after Blazier’s touchdown, quarterback Kolten Gajewski threw a strike to the speedster Blazier for an 11 yard score. Two scoring plays in exactly one minute of play allowed the Hornets to extend their lead to 35-14. The offensive momentum then shifted to the defensive side of the ball. A hit on the Mustang quarterback jared the ball into the air, and it was Kade Ridgeway who came down with the interception. On the ensuing drive, Colten Gajewski was intercepted and Unity had the ball on their own 38. The Mustang offense barely had enough time to get on the field before it was Nashville’s Caden Gajewski who stole it right back with a takeaway. A couple plays later, the quick strike offense continued the second half onslaught thanks to a 23-yard pass from Gajewski to Turner, putting Nashville on top 42-14. 

The Mustangs were able to score once more in the fourth, climbing back to within three scores with 10:23 left in the contest, but the Hornets were well in control of the ball game by that point. Caden Gajewski continued to make his presence felt, sacking the quarterback and forcing a fumble which was recovered by Josh Bruns. Turner joined Blazier with a hat trick of his own after a catch and run of 47 yards down the sideline, and it was 48-20 midway through the fourth. The Hornets would eventually prevail 48-20. Gajewski finished the outing 13-20 through the air for 214 yards. Turner led the team with nine receptions for 199 yards, four rushes for 47 yards and three touchdowns. Blazier had three catches for 22 yard to go along with 65 yards on the ground while also finding his way into the endzone three times. Gladson was the leading rusher, as he finished his day with 19 rushes for 127 yards. The first round win sets the team up with another duel with Bismarck-Henning, who rank third in Class 2A. Nashville beat the Blue Devils in the 2019 playoffs 28-14. Bismarck advanced to the second round following a 35-6 victory over Virden North Mac. The game will be played at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6th at Bismarck-Henning.

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