By TaylorAnn Eidam and Caroline King
In the Beginning
The crowd’s roar could be heard from the parking lot as the entire community packed the stadium. The fog rolled in right at kickoff, adding to an already muddy, slick field.
Hawthorne’s offense had a slow start with a snap fumble and loss of yards. The Hornets (10-0) were able to recover with a pass from junior quarterback Cj Ingram to senior Matthew Mckinley-daniels to put the Hornets in scoring position.
On the next play, Ingram rushed the ball into the end zone for Hawthorne’s first touchdown with two minutes left in the first quarter.
The Hornets were penalized left and right and before the end of the first they fumbled another snap.
Hawthorne coach Cornelius Ingram gathered his team to shift the momentum.
“He ain’t bobbled a snap yet, you’re playing on the same field,” Ingram told his team.
Charging Down the Field
The Hornets’ offense turned it around before the end of the first half.
The Hornets started off strong in the second quarter with their second touchdown of the night with a connection from Ingram to Mckinley-daniels for a 77-yard pass play.
The next Panthers’ possession, the Hornet defense continued their momentum with an interception from senior Jamarion Davenport.
The huge interception led to a 64-yard touchdown from senior Caleb Rollerson, who broke tackles left and right down the field to run into the end zone.
Caleb Rollerson breaks a tackle and runs ball down field to score
— TaylorAnn Eidam (@EidamTaylorann) November 18, 2023
The Hawthorne defense kept on their toes with another interception a couple possessions later from freshman Nathan Jennings.
Coach Ingram praised his young team, saying he has confidence in them trusting the process and they play the game right.
The last Hawthorne score came from a one-handed catch by McKinley leading to Ingram running the ball in for a 67 touchdown run to put the Hornets up 27-0 with 10:52 left in the third quarter.
The Hornets’ defense was a powerhouse right out of the gates against Newberry (9-3).
Senior Navy commit Andrew Zock is now averaging 11 tackles a game.
The Hornets made crucial third-down stops that forced the ball into a favorable position on the field for their offense to take over.
Zock gave praise to his teammates
“We have a young team, so to be able to stick together through the game, fight through adversity and come out with a win over a great team is big.”
No Time Off
It’s Thanksgiving week, but that doesn’t change the Hornets’ disciplined process.
“We gotta prepare Sunday-Friday. There are no days off to be prepared for the game,” Zock said.
Coach Ingram admired that he had not had a single player or coach go out of town and miss practice on Thanksgiving in four years.
“That’s the kind of program I have, it’s priceless,” he said.
The two-seeded Hornets, last year’s state champs, now face the top seed in the region, the Williston Red Devils, who come off a 52-17 defeat of Pahokee to improve to 11-0, for the region final in Williston at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Hawthorne would face the winner of the Region 3 final between three seed Union County (8-3) at top seed Madison County (8-1) at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1.