Hutchison sparks Hornets 35-26 come- from-behind win over South Central

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Malvern Hornet Kaden Grinder (50) dives to recover a fumble.

By Carol McIntire

Editor

Malvern is moving on to the third round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) playoffs.

The No. 5 seeded Hornets defeated the South Central Trojans 35-26 Friday in front of a home crowd and will play No. 4 seed Dalton Oct. 23 at Dalton in a Division VII Region 25 contest. The Hornets received a bye the first week.

The hosts put points on the board late in the first quarter, but fell behind 20-7 early in the third quarter.

Late in the third quarter, Malvern defensive back Derk Hutchison intercepted a Brandon Mitchell pass and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown that ignited a spark in the Hornets, who scored 21 fourth-quarter points.

“The entire first half, we were just bad,” said Malvern Coach Matt Chiurco following the game. “I expected us to come out and perform and we didn’t. We had three turnovers in the first half; we didn’t execute and weren’t doing the little things. Give South Central credit- they are not the traditional 1-6 team. They got after it and played hard.”

Hutchison put Malvern on the board with 35 seconds left in the first quarter on a two-yard touchdown run. The score was set up by an eight-yard run by Adam Moser. Ryan Runyon added the extra point kick.

The celebration was short-lived as Carson Music returned the kickoff to the Malvern 8-yard line and, two plays later, Mitchell found the end zone on a two-yard run. Hagen Adams added the extra point to tie the game.

 A Hornet fumble on the ensuring possession set up the Trojans on the host’s 38-yard line. Five plays later, Mitchell found Jackson McCormick in the open field and connected on a 28-yard touchdown. The extra point was no good and South Central took a 13-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Chiurco said he talked to the team at halftime and they made some adjustments heading into the third quarter.

The Hornets gave up a 32-yard score on the opening series of the quarter and fell behind 20-7.

“Our kids are resilient. They’ve been there before,” Chuirco said of the uphill climb his team faced. “We were there last year. We’re resilient, they keep going because we know we can score in a hurry.”

That is exactly what the Hornets did.

From his quarterback position, Hutchison carried the ball time and time again, breaking tackles and dragging defenders as the Hornets marched up the field.

Malvern began the fourth period with a 69-yard drive that started on their own 31-yard line and included more yards in penalties than in total yards. Hutchison capped off the drive with a seven-yard run. Ruynon added the extra point to put the Hornets back on top 21-20.

The Hornet defense forced a four-and-out on South Central’s next possession. Three plays later, Hutchison ran through the left side of the defense and scampered 42 yards to the end zone. Runyon’s kick sailed through the uprights and Malvern led 28-20.

Central added a score on their next possession when Mitchell connected with Music over the middle for 32 yards. The Trojans attempted a two-point conversion, but the Hornets picked off the pass.

Noah Ball intercepted a Mitchell pass to set up Malvern’s final score, an 18-yard run by Hutchison with 50 seconds left in the game.

Tristan Phillips put an exclamation point on the victory with an interception to close out the game.

Chiurco was proud the way his team turned things around late in the game and pulled out the victory.

“The interception by Derk was what we needed,” he said. “We were down two scores to Central last year. Tristan gets an interception and turns that game around and we win it.”

Malvern won the game on paper with 305 yards of total offense compared to 266 for South Central. Hutchison completed nine of 21 passes for 90 yards. Mitchell connected on nine of 21 passes for 238 yards. Each team committed three turnovers.

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