Courtesy Tom Waddill / The Huntsville Item
HUMBLE — The Hornets made this one interesting. Twice, they rallied in the second half Friday and got within striking distance of Summer Creek.
But Huntsville’s hard-luck season continued in the District 18-4A opener, as the Bulldogs held on and beat the Hornets 31-24 at Turner Stadium.
Huntsville (0-4) got within a touchdown late in the fourth quarter when senior quarterback Kent Albert pushed his way into the end zone from a yard out. Then the Hornets tightened up defensively and got the ball back with plenty of time and only 35 yards away from overtime.
Summer Creek’s defense rose up and made a strong stand, forcing the Hornets to go three-and-out in their last gasp for their first victory this season.
“We put ourselves in a place where we could win this ball game,” Hornets head coach Shane Martin said. “But we shot ourselves in the foot again in the first half. We had that fumble on that first punt and other goofy stuff.
“Still, I’m very, very proud of our kids. I thought they played exceptionally hard both offensively and defensively. They made a lot of things happen out there tonight and had a shot at the end of the game.”
Huntsville, which had not come close to a win in three nondistrict games, fell behind 21-10 in the first half. But Henry Ford’s 66-yard touchdown run midway through the third period gave the Hornets life.
The Bulldogs (4-0) appeared to zap the spirit out of the small Huntsville crowd when they scored the first 10 points in the fourth quarter and took a 31-17 lead.
Quickly, the Hornets got busy again. In eight plays, Huntsville marched 90 yards for the touchdown that made it a one-score game again.
Ford, who rushed for 143 yards on 17 carries, broke loose for a 38-yard scamper to put the Hornets in business. Junior James Burns ripped off a 14-yard run and Albert hit sophomore Christain Champine with a 19-yard throw to get Huntsville to the Summer Creek 11.
Albert and his “jumbo” backfield mates — linebackers Cameron Shirley and Bridge Blount — pushed the ball into the end zone from there. Isaac Guzman, who pulled double duty (kicking and punting) and even hit a 37-yard field goal in the first half, drilled the point-after kick to make it 31-24.
Huntsville’s defense, which had its hands full all night trying to slow the Bulldogs’ potent passing game, made a mighty stand and quickly got the ball back.
Penalties put Summer Creek in a hole, then the Hornets pushed the Dogs further toward their own goal line. Senior defensive end Myron Sanders sacked Summer Creek quarterback Aaron Sharp on second-and-18, then Steve York, Shirley and Sanders tossed Sharp for a 14-yard loss on third-and-forever.
After a 28-yard punt, the Hornets failed to move the ball. A penalty and three consecutive running plays netted Huntsville negative-4 yards. On fourth-and-14, Albert underthrew two receivers streaking down the field.
Summer Creek ran out the last 1:51, then celebrated a big district win.
“I thought we had a chance to score and shove this game into overtime,” Martin said. “Our guys were out there fighting.”
The Hornets fought all right, and they fought with a short stick. Huntsville battled a young, but talented Summer Creek team without its starting quarterback, Daniel Hazlewood, who is out for the season with a foot injury. Several other Hornets were injured, but a few of them suited up and played anyway.
Sharp, a sophomore, simply did too much damage with his accurate left arm for the Hornets to pull this one out. The youngster who won the quarterback job during the Bulldogs’ first varsity season last fall, completed 15-of-28 throws for 292 yards and two touchdowns. Sharp also ran for a score late in the first half.
Huntsville comes back home next week for a critical game against Caney Creek, which hung tough but lost to Humble 31-24 on Friday in Conroe.