Courtesy DJ Shafer / The Huntsville Item
Despite recording 12 penalties for a loss of 111 yards, the Hornets never lost control in Friday night’s 13-7 win over Humble.
Mistakes didn’t negatively affect the Hornets or their motivation to beat Humble, which was evident in the postgame celebration at Bowers Stadium.
The victory tied Huntsville (3-1) for the top spot in District 18-4A, along with Humble, Kingwood Park, Willis and Summer Creek.
“It feels really good,” senior quarterback Kent Albert said. “We haven’t beaten Humble since we’ve played them and we finally beat them.”
The game started out stagnant, with neither team able to get into a rhythm offensively. But midway through the second quarter, Albert connected with Kriston Minor for a 26-yard pass play down the right sideline.
Two plays later, Ricky Bennett caught a pass from Albert for 33 yards to set the Hornets up on the 27-yard line.
Facing fourth-and-7 from the 24-yard line, Huntsville appeared to attempt a field goal to finally break the deadlock. Albert, however, grabbed the snap and ran eight yards, just enough to give the Hornets new life.
Another run by Albert put Huntsville in closer position to score, before junior running back James Burns burst through the middle for a 5-yard touchdown.
The extra point attempt by Isaac Guzman was partially blocked, but the Hornets still led 6-0 with 6:33 to go in the second quarter.
“It’s a team effort,” Huntsville head coach Shane Martin said after the game. “Tonight our defense really stepped up and played, but we couldn’t have done that without our offense doing some things and putting some drives together.”
It was the performance of the defense that provided the highlights of the evening.
To start the second half, Bridge Blount sacked Humble quarterback Kyle Tucker for a loss of five yards. Then Tucker threw a pass right into the hands of Hornets linebacker Dearron Archie, who stayed tucked behind his blockers and muscled his way into the end zone.
“I don’t even know what to say, just stepping up as an underclassman just feels good,” Archie said. “This is a good group of boys and I just thank the Lord that I’m able to play with them.”
Just a little more than a minute into the third quarter, Huntsville led Humble 13-0 with all of the momentum swinging its way.
Standout running back Henry Ford spent most of the game playing linebacker for the injured Markey Thomas, with Burns (78 rushing yards) holding his own in the Hornet backfield. But with Blount sidelined for a drive, Humble marched down the field to threaten Huntsville’s two-possession lead.
A 32-yard dump pass from Tucker to Zac Miles went for 32 yards, which eventually set up a short touchdown throw to Greg Bledsoe Jr., who stood wide open in the end zone.
With a 13-7 score and just over a minute until the fourth quarter, the Hornets were faced with the task of closing out a win in a game where they consistently piled up penalties.
“It was crazy because I didn’t want to mess up for the team,” Albert said. “We want to work on finishing and closing the game out.”
Martin bragged on the senior quarterback — who completed 7-of-15 passes for 84 yards and one interception — praising his leadership because of the way the rest of the offense rallied behind him.
“Kent is the leader of our team,” Martin said. “The offensive line, the running backs and receivers all jumped on board with him and it was a total team effort. That’s what we’re more proud of than anything.”
Late penalties nearly handed the game to Humble, but the Hornets hung on. In one fourth-quarter drive, Huntsville was flagged for three penalties in four snaps – two false starts and a holding call.
When Humble was given the opportunity to make things tougher on Huntsville, the Wildcats fumbled on second-and-long, feeding the Hornets’ energy.
“Our defense really stepped came out and stepped up,” Martin said. “They worked hard all week, studying film and studying the scouting reports and it all paid off tonight because they really read into what (Humble) was doing. We kind of latched on. …
“There were a lot of mistakes but our team fought back. Our motto is, ‘adapt, adjust and overcome’ and that’s what those kids did tonight.”
Bennett added the exclamation point to the evening when he intercepted a pass right off the fingertips of Humble receiver Chaz Davis. It was the last time the Wildcats held possession, with no timeouts and merely two minutes to left to play.
It was a special interception for Bennett because just two plays earlier he was flagged for pass interference, the 12th of those penalties against the Hornets.
“I felt like after I got beat I had to come through for our team,” Bennett said. “When I got it, I felt like we sealed the deal. Coach kept telling us all week to just play through because that’s what Hornets do. We finish.”