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FOOTBALL: Hornets steal all buzz from Indians

Huntsville 31, PNG 14

PNG’s Roschon Johnson (2) is taken down after a short gain by the Huntsville defense Friday at The Reservation in Port Neches. (Brian Vincent/Special to The News)

PNG’s Lawrence Vaughn (33) upends Huntsville’s Giovanni Lawson (89) for a loss during the first half of Friday’s game at The Reservation in Port Neches. (Brian Vincent/Special to The News)

Lawrence Vaughn of PNG goes for the tackle against Cameron Myers of Huntsville on Friday. (Brian Vincent/Special to The News)

By DAUCY CRIZER
Special to The News

PORT NECHES – The game started 17 minutes late due to lightning strikes in the area and Port Neches-Groves never seemed to find its rhythm as Huntsville pulled away for a 31-14 non-district win Friday night at The Reservation.

There was never any severe weather or rain, just some lightning strikes within close proximity of the stadium that delayed warmups and then the start of the game, which kicked at 7:47 p.m. instead of the scheduled 7:30.

“Lot of adversity tonight,” said PNG coach Brandon Faircloth. “Proud of our guys. They left it all on the field. Played hard all four quarters, just came up a bit short. We have a long way to go. It’s early in the season and we’ve got to get better.

“Give credit to Huntsville. They had a great game plan tonight and came out and got after us. We have to bounce back and have a great week of practice.”

The Hornets jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead and never trailed in the game as the Indians offense struggled to move the ball early against a stout Huntsville defense. Huntsville outgained the Indians 386-296, including out rushing PNG 180-66.

Senior quarterback Roschon Johnson was kept in check much of the night. He did break for an occasional big run, complete a few long passes and convert on a couple of key third and fourth downs. He finished the night completing 17-32 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 55 yards on 17 carries.

Johnson left the game at 9:50 of the fourth quarter with an apparent leg injury. After the game, coach Faircloth indicated that the injury was still being evaluated and was hopeful that it was just a sprained ankle.

Huntsville (2-0) added to its 17-7 lead early in the third quarter. Johnson was sacked and fumbled the football, which was recovered by Traqun House and returned 17 yards for a touchdown to push the Hornets lead to 24-7 with 10:54 left in the third quarter.

PNG (1-1) responded with a scoring drive of its own on the next possession. Johnson hit Tyler Pippin for 17 yards and a Jaylan Williams 9-yard run put the ball at the Hornets 38. Johnson converted a third-and-1 with a keeper, but had the leave the game with cramps.

Grant Rogers replaced Johnson for the rest of the drive and on fourth-and-seven, hit Pippin for a 32-yard scoring strike to make the score 24-14 with 6:57 remaining in the third quarter.

Huntsville closed out the scoring with a drive late in the fourth quarter, which covered 87 yards in 12 plays. The Hornets junior quarterback Matthew Southern capped the drive with a 1-yard scamper to make the final score 31-14.

Southern completed 20 of 27 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Jaeryne Green rushed for a game-high 124 yards on 16 carries. Jaylon Griffin had five receptions for 99 yards.

Huntsville struck first on its second offensive possession. The Hornets needed just seven plays to go 80 yards. A 36-yard completion from Southern to Griffin put the ball at the 15. Those same two connected on a 5-yard scoring strike two plays later to put Huntsville up 7-0.

After forcing the Indians to punt, the Hornets put together another scoring drive. Griffin caught a 16 yard completion to put the ball at the PNG 19. Two plays later, Southern hit Tatum for a 12-yard touchdown to give Huntsville a quick 14-0 lead with 4:43 left in the first quarter.

PNG finally put together a scoring drive on its third possession of the game. Johnson hit Caleb Wuenschel for a 22-yard completion on third-and-10 to get the drive going. Another 15-yard completion to Wuenschel put the ball at the Hornet 27. Wuenschel finished the game with six catches for 59 yards.

Facing a fourth down, Johnson hit Caleb Billeaud for a 23-yard scoring strike to get the Indians on the board and cut the lead in half at 14-7 with 1:40 remaining in the quarter.

Both defenses settled in during the second quarter. A 25-yard field goal by Huntsville’s Nathan Batten accounted for the only scoring in the quarter and the Hornets took a 17-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Indians tried to mount a scoring drive in the closing minutes of the second quarter. Johnson scrambled for 26 yards and converted a fourth-and-1 to put the ball at the Hornets 43. The drive stalled in the waning seconds and Johnson was hit as he threw the ball on fourth-and-14 on the last play of the quarter, which was intercepted by Jordan Brown.

Hornets 31, Indians 14
Huntsville   14   3   7   7   —   31
PNG   7   0   7   0   —   14

First quarter
Hunt – Jaylon Griffin 5 pass from Matthew Southern (Nathan Batten kick), 7:36
Hunt – Miles Tatum 12 pass from Southern (Batten kick), 4:43
PNG – Cade Billeaud 23 pass from Roschon Johnson (Mario Ocegura kick), 1:40
Second quarter
Hunt – Batten 25 FG, 3:13
Third quarter
Hunt – Traqun House 17 yard fumble return (Batten kick), 10:54
PNG – Tyler Pippin 32 pass from Grant Rogers (Ocegura kick), 6:57
Fourth quarter
Hunt – Southern 1 run (Batten kick), 3:44

PNG   Hunt
First downs        15           16
Rushes-yards     31-66     33-180
Passing yards     230         206
Total yards          296         386
Comp-Att-Int     19-36-1 20-27-1
Fumbles-lost     1-1          0-0
Penalties-yards 8-74       3-25
Punts-avg           6-37.0    2-29.0

Individual statistics
RUSHING —  PNG: Roschon Johnson 17-55, Gavin Deslatte 8-1, Jaylan Williams 4-9. Hunt: Jaeryne Green 16-24, Cameron Myers 12-49.
PASSING — PNG: Roschon Johnson 17-32-1—191, Grant Rogers 2-4-0—39. Hunt: Matthew Southern 20-27-1—206.
RECEIVING — PNG: Kaleb Wuenschel 6-59, Tyler Pippin 3-51, Jose Ceja 3-42, Cooper Hammond 2-22. Hunt — Jaylon Griffin 5-98, Miles Tatum 4-47, Tyrique Carter 4-22.