LOCUST FORK — Locust Fork built early leads of 9-0 and 16-7 at home against St. Clair County, only to see the Saints march back with a strong running game and snatch away Hornet playoff hopes, thanks to a 31-24 win at Gary Pate Field.
Things looked good early for the Hornets as they took the opening kickoff, then mounted a 10-play drive that ended with a 33-yard Kyle Hornbuckle field goal with eight minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Saints quarterback Matt Hicks fumbled the snap on the first play after the kickoff, which set up the Hornets opening touchdown of the game moments later. Running back Josh Tawbush took a handoff and raced around end from 14 yards out with 6:43 still remaining in the first stanza. A bobbled snap on a fake extra point kick left the Hornets with a 9-0 lead only five minutes into the game.
It took the Saints only two minutes to respond to the Hornet score when Hicks found receiver Juan Montgomery for a 19-yard pass for a touchdown. Kicker Kylee Harrell — yes, she’s a girl — added the point after.
The Hornets would take the kickoff and move to their third score in three possessions, as fullback Shiloh Biles bulled into the end zone from two yards out on a 4th-and-goal play. Hornbuckle added the point after, and the Hornet lead was 16-7 with 11:02 remaining in the first half.
The Saints started to get their offense going, and their defense began stopping the Hornets from moving the ball. They threatened to score on three occasions before the halftime horn, but found the end zone only once.
Reserve running back Justin Brown found paydirt for St. Clair on a 12-yard run to cut the Hornet lead to 16-14 with 5:39 left before intermission.
The other two Saints possessions in the second quarter ended with Hornet interceptions. The first came on a Joey Robinette theft of a Matt Hicks pass at the Hornet goal, and the second when Chase Biles picked off a Hicks toss just before halftime at the Hornet 26.