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Hornets falter in opener

PLANTERSVILLE – The Dallas County Hornets found early success in their first football game of the 2008 season.

But their opponent West Blocton turned things around by scoring three times in the second quarter to go on to a 27-20 win.

The Hornets, who dropped from 5A to 4A this year, have lost 10 of its last 11 games dating back to last season.

“We do things that are not conducive to winning,” said Dallas County coach John Higgins. “We make little errors that turn into big plays. Until we learn to take care of the little things, we will not win a lot.”‘

The Hornet defense thwarted West Blocton’s opening drive by forcing a punt after giving up a first down. The Hornets followed, taking their first drive of the year 85 yards in 10 plays. Senior running back Ramon Burrell culminated the drive by breaking three tackles on the way to a 42-yard touchdown run with 2:12 left in the first quarter to give Dallas County a 7-0 lead.

The Tigers scored their first of three second-quarter touchdowns on the ensuing drive with a 3-yard pass to knot the game at seven. West Blocton then took advantage of great field position after a Hornet 4-yard punt and marched 45 yards to go ahead 14-7, scoring on fullback James Kelser’s first of three touchdowns.

Midway through the second quarter, the Hornet defense forced a fumble at its own 25-yard line, giving its offense a chance to put more points on the board with the clock reading 5:26.

The offense capitalized on the turnover a minute later as senior quarterback Andrew Blackmon hit Brandon Harvell in the flat. He scampered 72 yards to pay dirt. DCHS missed the point after, closing its deficit to 14-13.

The Tigers added their third touchdown of the quarter on a Kelser 1-yard plunge as the second quarter clock ran out. They took a 21-13 advantage into the locker room at the half.

West Blocton added its final points of the game late in the third on a 3-yard run by Kelser, who finished the game with 183 yards rushing on 27 carries. After a failed point after, the Tigers led 27-13.

In the final 12 minutes, Blackmon left the game early in the quarter, getting injured following a sack. However, late in the quarter, backup quarterback Justin McAfee led DCHS on a 50-yard drive, capping it with a 10-yard floater to the corner of the end zone to tight end Andrew Mahan. The scoreboard read 27-20 with 2:48 left in the contest. The Hornets couldn’t execute an onside kick, and the Tigers were able to run out the clock.

“Dallas County has a very physical team,” said Tigers coach Greg Farnetti. “We’re fortunate to get out of here with a win.”

Dallas County finished the game with 232 total yards. Senior Winston Bearden led the defense with eight tackles and one assist. Markell Cunningham added seven tackles; three of them were for losses. Mahan finished with three catches for 80 yards.