The Hornets’ season came to an end with a 35-8 loss to Franklin-Simpson during a Class 3A playoff game at Franklin Friday. Hancock County finished its season with a win–loss record of 6-5.
“We didn’t play our best game. It’s tough when you don’t play well in your last game because you have to live with it,” HCHS coach Bobby Eubanks said.
The Hornets picked up a first down on their opening drive, advancing the football across the 50 yardline, but a fumble in the backfield was recovered by the Wildcats. The Franklin-Simpson offense kept the ball on the ground with running plays as they worked towards the goal line. Layne Alford finished off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.
A completed pass from quarterback Dylan Morris to Bradyn Morris gave the Hornets a first down on the ensuing possession, but the boys were later pushed back on a grounding call. Hancock faced a third–and–13 at their 25 yard line when a Dylan Morris’ pass attempt was tipped and intercepted by the Wildcats.
Damont Leggs picked off the pass and returned it to the Hornets’ three yard line. The HCHS defense held strong for two plays until Wildcats QB Mathias Dickerson scored on 1-yard run. Landen Garrison made a nice return on the ensuing kickoff and Aiden
Weatherholt carried for eight yards on first down as the quarter came to a close. The Hornets later faced a third–and–six at their own 36 yard line when Morris connected with Garrison on a crossing pattern. The senior made the catch then turned on the jets for a 46 yard gain.
Weatherholt picked up good yardage and the Hornets were aided by a pass interference call on fourth down that put the ball inside the 10. Jack Roberts nearly scored on a hard run, but the ball was placed at the one. Dylan Morris then carried over the goal line for the TD. A nifty pass play from Roberts to Alex Madden was good for two points and the score was 14-8 with 9:43 remaining in the half.
The Wildcats’ offense was difficult to contain as they mounted a long drive. Gavin Dickerson capped it off with a short plunge for a TD and the score was 21-8.
The Hornets went to their aerial attack after the kickoff and Morris threw deep down the sidelines to Garrison. The intended receiver was covered by two defenders and Hunter Jones picked off the pass for Franklin-Simpson. Hayden Shearn sacked the Wildcats’ QB on first down and Wyatt Emmick was later putting heavy pressure on Dickerson when he made a desperation throw that was intercepted by Aiden Thrasher before the half came to a close.
Franklin-Simpson got the ball first to begin the second half and they could not be stopped. Emmick made a tackle for loss for the Hornets but the Wildcats’ offense rushed their way down the field and Blake McPherson scored on a 16 yard run to make it 28-8.
A botched handoff attempt by the Hornets resulted in another fumble that was recovered by the home team. The Wildcats advanced the ball to the Hornets’ 10 yard line and they looked to be going in for a score when a Dickerson pass attempt was picked off by Shearn. The junior defensive back returned the INT to the 40 before the ball was stripped out-of-bounds.
The Hornets moved the ball offensively but eventually turned the ball over on downs. Franklin-Simpson later added one more TD on a short run by Dickerson. Coach Eubanks shared his thoughts on the season after the game. “This team and this senior group has laid a really solid foundation to build upon and I’m super proud of them. It’s been a really fun season,” coach Eubanks said.
Franklin-Simpson will advance to play Union County in round two of the 3A playoffs.
By Steve Wimmer