Bearcats stung by Hornets ‘D’ in Death Valley

By JAMES PHILLIPS PHOTO BILLY FREEMAN,

To open the 2019 football season, the Lake Hornets hosted the Class 3A Forest Bearcats who traveled seven miles east on Hwy 80 for the in-county matchup. Both teams struggled to get any offense going due to strong defense and bad field conditions, but the Hornets were able to score one more point than Forest and won the game 14-13.

Lake head coach Tate Hanna scheduled his Hornets team against back-to-back Class 3A opponents to start the 2019 season. So far, his team took down one larger school, and the coach believes his team will be better for playing tougher competition.

“The challenge it gives us to play bigger schools will help us in the long run,” Hanna said. “Playing against tough competition will prepare us for down the road. Our district is killer and as tough as it gets in 2A football. Playing these 3A schools at this point in the season will only help us when we get in the teeth of our district scheduled.”

The Hornets answered the call last Friday night. The field conditions at “Death Valley” in Lake were bad, and both teams had a tough game on offense. The visiting Bearcats only mustered 73 yards of total offense for the game, and Lake was not much better, but stepped up when it mattered to get the win.

“We came out very sloppy on offense, turning the ball over and then we fumbled and allowed them to pick it up and score,” Hanna said. “Our quarterback was making his first start tonight and it took him about three series to calm down. But Forest got all the momentum early when they had the scoop-and-score.”

The Hornets offense was not much better than the Bearcats. Sophomore QB Brady McGee, making his first start behind center, was under pressure all night and was sacked six times. He ended the night with 106 yards passing, but the most important stat is that he is 1-0 as a starter.

Forest senior Devonyal Lofton set up camp in the Hornets offensive backfield and terrorized McGee all night. He finished the game with four sacks and one hurried pass as part of an 11-tackle night. Dylan Grayson of the Cats also had double digit tackles ending the night with 10.

The Lake defense was the story of the game and the Hornets savior on the night. “Our defense was spot on all night and really won the game for us,” Hanna said. “Forest lived on our side of the field all night, but our defense stopped them time after time.”

The game went without either team scoring for a majority of the second half, and on a night dominated by defense the Hornets came away with the 14-13 upset.

Forest head coach Ty Weems had not returned calls for comment by press time on Tuesday.

The Bearcats are 0-1 after the loss and will host Bay Springs at L.O. Atkins Field this Friday night. The kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.

After moving to 1-0 with the big win, the Hornet will face another larger school when they travel to De Kalb to take on Class 3A Kemper County this Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.