Hornets pounce on Tigers early for win
By Logan Watson
The Hornets turned a lot of heads Friday night as they not only defeated the 4A Lexington Tigers, but defeated them soundly, leading 27 to zip at the end of the first half and cruising to a 34-14 finish.
“We probably shocked a lot of folks outside our own locker room,” said Hornets Head Coach Scott Stidham, “but I don’t think our kids were surprised at all.”
“We’ve got 20 talented senior players, and I think they were just ready to get out there and prove themselves.”
The Hornets definitely made believers out of Lexington, as SGC pounded their way into the end zone on their first drive.
Senior RB Dre McAllister got loose on a 30-yard run to pick up SGC’s first six of the season, followed by a PAT from kicker Michael Bell.
The next play, however, was where the Hornets convinced themselves and everyone else in the stadium that they were a legitimate threat this season.
An onside kick caught the Tigers off guard and was snatched up by SGC. A pair of poorly-timed penalties set Lexington’s heels in the red zone, and senior Calem Rich took the ball back across the line for another touchdown.
The extra point went wide, but it was safe to say that the Tigers were shook.
“When we got that kick back, we knew we had a good chance,” said Coach Stidham. “We scored twice before their offense even got to touch the ball. That makes it pretty tough to come back.”
Leading 13-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Hornets had some room to move. A big TFL on third down forced a punt from the Tigers, and the SGC defense began to click, preventing Lexington from making any big-yardage plays.
Senior playmaker C.J. Sharp proved that the Hornets’ explosive offense was more than just journalistic hype on our part, when he broke free for a 71-yard touchdown run. A failed two-point conversion still left the Hornets with a solid 19-0 lead, but Sharp was not finished.
Big defensive plays from Krayton Woods and the rest of the SGC D-line put the pigskin back in the Hornets’ hands two drives later.
On the first snap, Sharp plowed through the Lexington line and set out on an epic 84-yard touchdown run. Moore’s keeper conversion tacked on two more and all but sealed the win for SGC.
“We were just trying to run the clock out and keep them from scoring before the half,” said Coach Stidham, “but then C.J. goes for 84 yards. That was a big momentum change for us.”
The teams battled for inches throughout the third quarter, with Lexington finding the end zone on a short run, then adding the PAT to make the score 34-7.
The Hornets took over just before the beginning of the fourth, sending Dre McAllister on another TD run, this time for 37 yards. The kick from Bell was good, and the party started in the stands. Lexington would save face with a second touchdown in the final minutes of the game, but it was purely academic.
Senior QB Dustin Moore showed good flexibility in the season opener, making the transition to the passing game when the Hornets hit a wall with the run.
Moore picked up 44 yards on 5 passes and hoofed it up the middle for 10 yards on two carries. Moore also snagged an interception at defensive back.
Sharp was the Hornets’ leading rusher, burning downfield for 195 total yards and two TDs on only 14 carries. McAllister was not far behind his classmate, picking up 106 yards and two TDs on 9 carries.
Plug-and-play star Calem Rich, who seems to be a threat no matter where he lines up, finished with 14 rushing yards on 4 carries with one TD and picked up six more yards on his one pass reception.
Defensively, the Hornets forced their agenda on Lexington quite well, showing the aggressiveness that we caught glimmers of during the preseason. Stat collecting went a bit wonky on the defensive end, so there were a number of sacks that went unreported. Krayton Woods, Griffin Brown, Jack Estes and others brought down men behind the line, and went full bore with pressure, which made Coach Stidham a happy fella.
“We played hard,” Stidham said. “We made some mistakes, but we played so hard that it almost made it unnoticeable. I’m also really proud that we didn’t give up any of the big haymaker plays that Lexington is capable of.”
With a big-time win under their belt and riding a wave of pure adrenaline, the Hornets will travel to Nashville this Friday night to take on Franklin Road Academy.
“They’ve got some really talented players,” said Coach Stidham. “They have two juniors in the top 25 of their recruiting class and their quarterback has the ability to run and throw. It will be a challenge for us to get to that level without many fans on our side, but we’ll see what we can do.”
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