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Hornets roll 40-17 over Eagles in home opener

Austin Volocko scored two touchdowns and made a big interception to lead the Hornets to a 40-17 win over Ohio County during the 2022 home opener at Schafer‑Glover Field Friday. Hancock County improved its record to 3-0 on the year.

It was exciting to have the big crowd here for the home opener. I thought we came out a little shaky at the beginning, not expecting their pressure, but we dug in there and once we got the jitters out of the way the kids preformed well,” HCHS coach Bobby Eubanks said.

The Hornets had a inauspicious beginning when they fumbled on their first offensive series. The Hancock County defense, which had not allowed a single point all year, had their backs against the wall. The Hornets held and on fourth down  the Eagles attempted a field goal. The ball sailed right of the post and the HCHS offense took over.

Hard runs by Alex Basham, Logan Willis and  Landen Garrison, along with two completions from Cole Dixon to Kaleb Keown, gave the Hornets a second down at the Eagles’ 10 yard line. Garrison took a handoff running left and the junior broke a tackle in the backfield. He slipped another defender at the five and raced across the goal line for the game’s first touchdown. Basham added the 2-point conversion and Hancock County led 8-0.

Ohio County had good field position after a nice kickoff return. They followed with two first down runs and advanced the ball to the Hornets’ 16 yard line when Jack Duncan broke through the line and dropped the runner for a big loss. The first quarter came to an end after a completed pass lost another yard.

The Eagles attempted another field goal on the first play of the second quarter and Brett Hoskins’ kick was good from 40 yards and Ohio County was on the scoreboard, trailing 8-3.

Dixon completed passes to Keown and Volocko and Willis ran over a defender to give the Hornets a first down at the Ohio County 32 yard line. Two more aerial gains followed by a nifty run by Garrison set up a 2-yard TD run by Drew Lyday. Jack Roberts carried for the conversion and the score was 16-3 with just under six minutes remaining in the first half.

Colin Johnson made a hit that forced a fumble and Aiden Weatherholt made the recovery for the Hornets at the Eagles’ 24 yard line.

Two plays later Dixon rolled to his right and threw a perfect, over-the-shoulder pass and Volocko made another fingertip grab for the touchdown. The pass play covered 23 yards and the Hornets now led 22-3.

Ohio County surprised the Hornets with a pass attempt across the middle of the field on the ensuing drive. Jaylen Walker made the catch and somehow slipped through a host of Hornet defenders on his way to a 57-yard TD reception.  The extra point made the score 22-10.

The HCHS offense turned the ball over on downs and OCHS took over at the Hornets’ 46 yard line with just over a minute left on the clock. The Eagles’ went to the air again and Matthew Smith tried a halfback pass to Walker. The ball looked to be on target, but Volocko flew in and intercepted the pass for the Hornet ‘D’!

“Austin is an electric dude,” the coach said. “He’s picking off passes, returning kicks and catching balls for touchdowns. He’s a lot of fun to watch. He’s on fire!”

Hancock County kicked off to begin the second half and an Ohio County player fumbled the ball. Braydon Wathen made the recovery and the Hornets had a first–and–10 at the Eagles’ 28 yard line.

Runs by Willis and a juggling catch by Keown gave the Hornets a first–and–goal at the six yard line. Basham then took the ball and rumbled into the end zone for the TD. Basham added the conversion and Hancock County had some breathing room, leading 30-10.

The Eagle offense went backwards on their next drive and were forced to punt from their own end zone. Johnson got in to block the punt and the Hornets got a safety on the play.

The Hornets got great field position after a penalty on the free kick and they took advantage. A two play drive resulted in a Dixon to Volocko catch-and-run for a 29-yard TD reception. Basham scored on the conversion run and Hancock County led 40-10 still in the third quarter.

The Eagles’ final score came after a long bomb from  Smith to Walker that covered 62 yards to the three yard line. The ball was later fumbled into the end zone and Ohio County’s Jacob Reisz made the recovery for the TD.

The stats

The Hornet offense racked up 299 yards of offense during the win. Ohio County gained 196 total yards of offense.

Dixon completed 10 of 15 pass attempts for 139 yards, with two TDs.

Volocko had four receptions for 79 yards and two TD. Keown had five catches for 61 yards and Duncan caught one for nine yards.

Willis led the rushing attack with 53 yards on 10 carries. Garrison ran five times for 48 yards and one TD. Roberts gained 33 yards on his only carry. Basham ran six times for 31 yards and one TD. Dixon and Keown picked one yard each. Duncan had one carry for -1 yard, and Lyday had -6 yards and scored one TD.

Duncan led the defense with 15 tackles, including two tackles for loss. Johnson made 10 tackles (two TFLs), Ross Powers made nine stops (one TFL), Basham made eight stops, Wathen had seven and two TFLs, Weatherholt made seven tackles, Aiden Embry and Lyday had six each, Volocko five, Garrison four, Chris Gillispie two (one TFL), Cooper Jones had two stops, and Aaron Garrett, Hayden Shearn, Evan Ferry, Roberts and Aiden Thrasher all made one tackle each.

“Our defense, as a unit, is continuing to play hard. We had a few breakdowns but overall they’re playing really well together,” Eubanks said.

The Hornets take on Edmonson County here this Friday.

By Steve Wimmer

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