Essex rumbles over Rams

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 26, 2004

MARION – The John Essex Hornets rode into town with only 15 players, but played as a team and defeated the Francis Marion Rams 22-7 in a game shortened by a brawl that erupted with over three minutes left in the game.

The Hornets lost a fumble on their first play from scrimmage. But the Rams were unable to capitalize, as Essex blocked a field goal attempt.

The Hornets then put together a 73-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run at the 4:18 mark of the first quarter. Essex converted the two-point play with a run to run the score to 8-0.

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The Rams threatened to score twice in the second quarter as they started drives at the Hornets’ 15- and 25-yard lines, but failed to score.

The final drive ended when Essex intercepted a pass and returned it 75 yards to the Rams’ 3-yard line. The Ram defense pushed the Hornets back six yards, helped by a penalty and an incomplete pass to keep Essex from scoring.

Marion started the third quarter with a 60-yard drive capped by a 37-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Devon Dunnican to tight end Cordoro Melton with 9:18 left in the third quarter. The extra point brought the Rams to within 8-7.

On its next possession, Essex drove 59 yards to the Ram one, but failed to score.

But the Rams fumbled on their first play and the Hornets scooped up the ball and ran in from seven yards to make it 16-7 with the 2-point conversion.

The Hornets capped the scoring on a 10-yard blocked punt return for a touchdown.

With 3:23 to go and the Hornets with possession at midfield, the Rams were assessed two penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct, after arguing with referees.

Tensions begin to build and a fight broke out at the far end of the field between fans of both teams. Referees exited the field with the clock running. Order was restored by city and county police forced to use mace.

“We will take care of this Monday,” Rams coach Mike Bedell said. “I tried to tell them early in the fourth that it wasn’t over..

“Our offensive turnovers hurt us,” Bedell added.

Francis Marion travels Friday to Clarke County.