By Randy Coleman
North Jefferson News
LOCUST FORK — Locust Fork spotted New Hope 14 early points, then came roaring back to take a late lead and held off a rally to earn a hard-fought 26-20 win over the Indians.
New Hope scored on 1-yard runs by quarterback Adam Browner and running back Jake Willbourn to take a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
The Hornets rallied to lead 20-14 at the half on Josh Tawbush’s 4-yard scoring run, a Todd Goodwin 11-yard reception from Kyle Hornbuckle and a 1-yard run TD run by Shiloh Biles.
Locust Fork extended the lead midway in the third on a Biles 2-yd scoring run. New Hope closed the margin to six points on Browner's 5-yard run late in the third quarter.
The Indians threatened twice in the last nine minutes, only to have their final effort stopped at the Hornet 20 on a 4th-and-2 run with 53 seconds left.
The Indians led the statistical battle, gaining 354 yards comapred to Locust Fork’s 260, with 19 first downs for the Indians and 14 for the Hornets. But New Hope was flagged nine times for 65 yards compared to a single 5-yard penalty for the hosts.
The Hornets had fumble issues as well, dropping five balls and turning over two. New Hope fumbled twice but kept possession both times.
Browner was 16-for-26 passing for 170 yards, and ran 14 times for 59 yards and two touchdowns. Zack Manley caught six passes for 60 yards.
Tawbush led Locust Fork with 95 yards on 11 carries. Biles ran seven times for 43 yards. Hornbuckle was 5-for-12 passing for 55 yards, with Goodwin catching four for 39 yards.