Hornets fall as mistakes halt comeback

Published 1:05 am Friday, October 26, 2012

Dallas County running back Jermere Jackson (25) runs through the Elmore defense during Thursday's game -- Robert Hudson

PLANTERSVILLE — Down 35-7 at one point, the Dallas County Hornets nearly staged a comeback for the ages, but were ultimately overcome by mistakes, as they lost 43-28 to the Elmore County Panthers on Thursday.

Chris Littleton, head football coach of Dallas County High School (2-7, 0-7 Class 4A-Region 3), said his team made too many mistakes to pull off the comeback, as the Hornets turned the ball over five times, including three interceptions, and also had two punts blocked.

“Overall, we just had too many turnovers to be able to pull it off, and gave up too much in the first quarter. We come out here in three quarters and took charge for three quarters of the football game,” Littleton said. “We gave up too much in that first quarter and then the turnovers kept the comeback from being able to be completed. But the kids played, I think, three quarters of the best football I’ve seen all year out of them. I couldn’t be more proud of them, but I’m disappointed at the same time because I know that we came so close.”

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Down 35-7 late in the first half, the Panthers (5-4, 3-4 Class 4A-Region 3) seemed to be headed for a blowout win, until Dallas County’s Demarius Berry picked off Elmore quarterback Michael Wells and returned it 70-yards up the right sideline for a touchdown. Dallas County’s Trent Salter hit J’Quan Carter on a fake during the extra point to make the score 35-15 with 3:56 left in the half, as the score would remain that way going into the third.

After turning it over on their first two drives of the third quarter, the Hornets got on the board again when Xavier Knight pounded the ball up the middle to make it a 35-22 game after Wyatt Sanders tacked on the extra point with 5:03 left in the third quarter.

The Panthers drove down to the Hornets’ 8-yard line on their next possession, but Hayden Dean’s field goal attempt on fourth down went wide right and was no good.

Elmore kept the Hornets off the scoreboard on the next possession and got the ball back for another chance to secure the win, but Walls was picked off again, this time by Shadrick Turner, who returned the ball 42-yards to the Panthers’ 3-yard line with 8:49 left to play.

One play later, Sanders ran it up the middle on a quarterback sneak to make the score 35-28 after a bad snap led to a failed extra point.

The Panthers looked to counter immediately as Tyler Black returned the ball into Hornets’ territory to the 30-yard line until he was stripped and Dallas County’s Xavier Mundell recovered it at the 11-yard line with 8:27 left to give the Hornets the ball with a chance to drive down and tie the game.

But the Panthers forced a three-and-out and as the Hornets punted, Elmore’s Sawyer Hauk blocked his second punt of the game as the ball went in the end zone and Turner intentionally knocked the ball out of the back of the endzone for Dallas County to avoid a touchdown, making it 37-28 with 6:22 left to play.

Elmore’s Jadeen Mitchell ran in a 17-yard touchdown on the next drive to secure the win.

Sanders led the Hornets with 131 yards passing and two rushing touchdowns, including Dallas County’s first of the game.

Jamarius Barnett had 91 yards receiving for Dallas County.

The Panthers had 165 yards on the ground, and Walls was 8 for 12 for 165 yards and had two touchdowns pass for Elmore.

The Hornets will take the field for the final time this season on Thursday at home against rival Southside at 7 p.m.