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Hornets secure playoff seed, winning season

The Hornets football team guaranteed themselves a playoff spot and a winning season when they won 30-20 over Hopkins County Central at Madisonville Friday. Hancock County’s season record now stands 6-3.

The Hornets will play at Franklin-Simpson when the Class 3A playoffs begin on November 3.

Dylan Morris threw three touchdown passes and Jaxson Morris had a career receiving game during the Hornets’ win at Central.

“This was a big win for us. In a 6-team district you have to earn your spot in the playoffs. To come back and battle the way we did all through district play was big,” HCHS coach Bobby Eubanks said.

The Storm scored first when they converted on a fourth–and–18 from the Hornets 20 yard line during Hopkins Central’s first possession. Quarterback Isac Earl broke several tackles on his way to a 20-yard TD run.

The Storm led 7-0 and were driving again later in the quarter when the Hornet defense forced a fumble and made the recovery. Aiden Weatherholt made the play.

The Hancock offense got rolling midway through the second quarter when Jack Roberts had a big run of 34 yards to inside the Storm’s five yard line. The Hornets later faced a third–and–goal from the four when Dylan Morris threw a pass to Alex Madden. The junior tight end made the catch in the end zone for the TD. Weatherholt scored the 2-point conversion and the Hornets led 8-7 with five minutes remaining in the half.

Earl was looking to pass for Hopkins Central when Aiden Thrasher chased him down and dropped him for a sack. Wyatt Emmick and Weatherholt helped bring down the QB and the Storm were forced to punt. The two teams went to half with the Hornets leading by one.

Second half

Hopkins Central had the ball near midfield early in the third quarter when the snap from center got away from Earl. Roberts made the recovery and the Hornet offense was in business at the 36 yard line of the Storm.

Cooper Jones moved the chains on a catch from Morris before Weatherholt ran over a defender on his way to another first down.

The Hornets later faced a fourth-and-goal from the nine yard line when Morris threw his second TD pass of the game. Landen Garrison made the catch and cruised into the end zone for the score. Roberts followed with the 2-point conversion and Hancock County led 16-7 with 4:38 remaining in the third.

Earl was under pressure from the Hornet defense when he tried to pitch the ball to a running back. Ross Powers hit the runner before he could gain possession and Emmick dove on the ground and covered the ball. Hancock County took over at the Storm 19 yard line, but later turned the ball over on downs.

Earl tried to throw deep on first down, but Garrison had the receiver covered and the senior picked off the pass to give the ball back to the Hornets.

Dylan Morris then went to the air and found Jaxson Morris for a nice gain into Storm territory. The drive carried over into the fourth quarter before the offense sputtered and gave the ball back to Hopkins Central.

Calil McNary caught a pass from Earl and rumbled deep into Hornet territory. The Storm were later awarded more yardage when a Hornet defender was charged with a hit on a defenseless receiver. Coach Eubanks was also hit with a penalty after a conversation with officials. McNary eventually scored on a 5-yard run and the score was 16-14 with just under nine minutes on the clock.

It didn’t take long for the Hornets to answer and they did it through the air.

Dylan Morris made a nice throw from the Storm 25 yard line and Jaxson Morris made the catch across midfield… and he was gone. The junior receiver made the grab in traffic then slipped a tackle and raced to the end zone for a 69-yard TD.

Emmick made a huge play for Hancock when he dropped the QB short of the line to gain on a fourth down try by Central.

Hancock County started at the Storm 40 yard line and Weatherholt made two nice runs. But, the offense was penalized twice and they faced second–and–29 when Weatherholt threw a halfback pass that was hauled in by Jaxson Morris. Luke Pritchard later made a catch for a first down and Weatherholt capped off the drive with a 14-yard TD run. A Madden 2-point conversion made the score 30-14.

Earl later scored the game’s final TD on a 22-yard run before time expired.

The six wins the Hornets have this season are more than  most prognosticators projected after losing 18 to graduation. Coach Eubanks talked about his team’s progression.

“We knew these guys were good football players even though most didn’t have much varsity experience. Once we got them going, working hard and listening and getting coached… we knew then that we had a chance to exceed expectations. Hats off to our staff for coaching so hard all year and getting them ready. We’re real happy with where we are right now.”

The stats

Dylan Morris completed 20 of 28 pass attempts for 208 yards. Weatherholt was 1 for 1 for 22 yards.

Jaxson Morris had five receptions for 143 yards. Roberts caught three for 28 yards, Garrison five for 26 yards, Jones five for 22 yards, Pritchard one for 8 yards, Madden one for 5 yards and Weatherholt one for 4 yards.

Weatherholt gained 72 rushing yards on 15 carries and Roberts ran 10 times for 70 yards. Chris Gillispie had 17 yards on his only carry, Dylan Morris had six yards, Carson Clark and Pritchard gained two yards each.

Weatherholt made 16 tackles, including one tackle for loss and one sack. Powers made 15 stops with three TFLs and one sack. Emmick had 10 tackles and one sack, Trevan Coiles had 10 and one TFL, Roberts eight stops with one TFL and one sack, Hayden Shearn and Jones made seven stops each, Clark had five, Thrasher had four with one TFL and one sack, Aiden Embry made three tackles, Garrison, Gillispie and Pritchard all had three each and Lawson Ward made one tackle.

By Steve Wimmer

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