Hornets remain unbeaten with 39-28 win

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Hornet Xavier Watson (12) runs the ball down field.

Withstand late Newcomerstown comeback

By Leigh Ann Rutledge

Associate Editor

The Malvern Hornets remain among the ranks of the unbeaten after putting a sting on the Newcomerstown Trojans 39-28 Friday evening.

The Hornets built a 27-0 lead before the Trojans scored three unanswered touchdowns. The Hornets held on to become 4-0 in spite of being flagged for 17 penalties for 125 yards.

“A win is a win and we were fortunate tonight. I thought our energy was great to start,” Head Coach Matt Chiurco stated. “We forced some early turnovers and put ourselves in great positions. Once we got up 27-0, it seemed like we got very complacent.”

Newcomerstown was set to receive the opening kick-off. As the ball hit the ground, Newcomerstown players watched it roll. Quick thinking Hornet Johnny Walker grabbed the live ball. Only seconds had clicked off the clock and the Hornets were facing first and goal.

On the next play, Adam Moser hit pay dirt from eight yards out. The extra point by Ryan Runyon put the Hornets on the board 7-0 eight seconds into the game.

Tension between the two teams began early in the game. Off-setting personal foul penalties forced a re-kick of the kickoff following the score.

Hornet quarterback Derk Hutchison quickly led his team into Trojan territory and scored on a one-yard run. Runyon’s extra point was good. The Hornets were up 14-0.

With 9:49 left in the first quarter, Moser ripped off a 60-yard run to the end zone. Again, Runyon’s extra point kick was good and the Hornets were up 21-0.

The Hornets halted a Trojan drive when sophomore defensive lineman Frank McClelland recovered a fumble, but they were not able to capitalize on the turnover.

Newcomerstown began their next drive and quarterback Logan Hursey threw a pass that was intercepted by Walker.

Malvern took possession and Newcomerstown was flagged for interference and face mask penalties, allowing the Hornets to continue the drive. With 24 seconds left in the first quarter, the Hornets had a first and goal. Seven seconds into the second quarter, Moser scored on 4-yard run. Runyon’s kick was no good. The Hornets led the Trojans 27-0.

Newcomerstown put points on the board with 8:33 left in the first half when Coltin Meek caught a 40-yard pass from Hursey. William McMullen added the extra point to cut the deficit to 27-7. 

The Trojans threatened late in the period, but the drive was halted when Noah Ball intercepted a Hursey pass with just over a minute remaining on the clock.

The second half began with the Hornets in possession for a quick series. Newcomerstown took over on their own 30 and began driving the ball. They ended the series in the endzone with an 11-yard pass from Hursey to Meek. McMullen’s kick was good, making the score 27-14.

The Hornets lost focus and were penalized for a dead ball foul for taunting.

 “When they started to rally, we panicked and let our emotions get the best of us, Chiurco stated. “When you have a night like we did penalty wise, it just looks bad on everybody. I was very disappointed in that.”

The Trojans put another score on the board in the fourth quarter when Hursey connected with Meek for a 12-yard score. The extra point by McMullen was good, cutting the deficit to 27- 21.

With seven minutes left in the game and Newcomerstown controlling the momentum of the game, the Hornets took possession of the ball.

They quickly moved the ball toward the Newcomerstown end zone.  Xavier Watson capped off the drive with a 27-yard touchdown. A two point conversion was no good. With 6:30 left to go, the Hornets were up 33-21.

The Malvern sideline was screaming at fellow players, “We need to stop them here.”

That was exactly what the Hornet defense did as Ball appeared to intercept Hursey’s pass on a first-and-15 play. After review, the referees determined, when Ball and a Trojan player went up for the ball, the Trojans fumbled the ball, but recovered it. The stands exploded with noise and soon the Trojans found the end zone. An illegal procedure moved McMullen back, but his extra point kick was still good. The score was 33-28.

The Hornets were unable to move the ball on the ensuing drive, giving the ball back to Newcomerstown one last shot.

On a first and 10 play, Walker picked off Hursey’s pass to stop the drive.

Hutchison made quick work of rallying his team and iced the victory with a 39-yard touchdown run.

The Hornets dominated the statistics, racking up 258 yards rushing compared to 104 for the Trojans. Hursey threw four interceptions. Hutchison had none. The Trojans had three fumbles, losing two. The Hornets had two fumbles.

Hutchison and Moser led the team with rushing, 114 and 110 yards with two and three touchdowns, respectively. Watson had one touchdown and 33 yards.

On the defensive side, Watson had 12 tackles, one for loss. Walker had nine tackles and two interceptions. Sam Foster had eight tackles; Moser added six tackles, two for loss and two sacks and Hutchison had a sack and five tackles, one for loss.

“The good thing is we’re 4-0 and everything we want is right in front of us. We need to shore things up and really have a much more positive mindset going forward,” Chiurco stated.

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