Hurricane Delta announced its arrival in Lee County as pouring rain from its outer bands soaked East Alabama for most of the day. Forty-five minutes before kickoff and Homecoming 2020, it looked like Delta had decided to sit for a spell as rain fell by the bucket-full on the Beauregard faithful filing in to the Hornet’s Nest for a night of pageantry and some pigskin action.
As pregame warm-ups continued in the rain, proud parents of the Homecoming Court, band and football team made their way to their seats looking skyward. Then, with only minutes before the playing of the National Anthem, it was as if Delta looked down upon the faces of Beauregard and said “you’ve weathered your storm,” turned off the rain and moved on.
Delta was not the only thing to arrive in Lee County Friday night however, as the Aggies of Sylacauga had also arrived to take part in the night’s scheduled festivities. At 5-1 overall and 2-1 in conference play, Sylacauga sat in the proverbial cat-bird seat in relationship to the impending 5A, Region 4 playoffs while the Hornets’ playoff fate pretty much rested on a must-win situation against a conference leader and a talented football team.
The Hornets won the coin toss, deferred to the second half, and gave the Aggies first crack on offense; three plays and 1:45 later, the Aggies led 7-0. The Hornets never flinch.
Instead, they answered with their own quick-strike drive capped off with a 40-yard touchdown romp by RB Trent Jones to even the score at 7-7. With the momentum at their backs, Beauregard’s kickoff team executed a perfect onside kick and the Hornets were back in business at the Sylacauga 45. Five plays later the drive stalled, and the Hornets were forced to punt.
Then it happened; that darn bug that has plagued the Hornets all year reared its head as the snap sailed over the head of K Cason Santa Anna, who was forced to kick the ball out of the back of the end-zone to prevent an Aggie scoop and score, resulting in a safety and making the score 9-7 Sylacauga. To add insult to injury, Sylacauga’s return man fielded Santa Anna’s free punt at his own 45-yard line, darted left and raced down the sideline for another quick touchdown increasing their lead to 16-7. Just like that, one bad snap set off a cascade effect resulting in a 9-point difference and putting the Hornets in the unfavorable position of trying to play catch-up against a formidable opponent.
On the first possession of the second quarter, the Hornets fumbled, putting the Aggies back on offense at the Hornet 20-yard line. From there, the flexible Hornet defense went to work forcing a punt to give the ball back to the Hornet offense. Both teams traded possessions until the Aggies managed to score on a 10-yard rush to put the Hornets’ backs to the wall at 23-7, and with one minute remaining in the second quarter, Sylacauga again found pay dirt to lead 30-7 at the half.
Keeping their playoff hopes alive did not get much easier in the second half. After receiving the ball to begin the third quarter, the Hornets could not find a rhythm and were forced to punt, sending their banged-up defense back onto the field.
Sylacauga continued their ground assault with a heavy dose of #3 Maleek Pope, who the Hornets struggled with containing most of the night. As a result, the Aggies pushed across two more touchdowns to go ahead 44-7 with eight minutes to play in the game.
As in each previous game, the Hornet starters played and fought hard all night, but down 27 points and with time running out, Head Coach Rob Carter went to his bench, including at quarterback, to get some much needed playing time and valuable experience for the future starters. After a couple of impressive plays by freshman quarterback #12 Trent Molten, the Hornets scored as #23 Trent Jones plunged in from 1 yard out to put some Hornet points on the board and make the score 44-13.
After another Aggie score, and then trading possessions back and forth, Molten dropped back and found #3 K.J. Malloy in stride for a 45-yard touchdown strike with five minutes to play. The Hornets mounted another drive late but could not find the endzone with the game ending with a final score of 51-19 in favor of the Aggies. With the loss, the Hornets slipped to 2-6 overall and 1-4 in conference play.
Coach Carter praised his team’s preparation, effort and execution during his post-game remarks. “I’m impressed with what we did. We still shot ourselves in the foot a bit with the fumble and interception, but I’m proud of them,” Carter said.
Beauregard travels to Elmore County on Friday, Oct. 16 to take on the Panthers at 7 p.m. CST. Elmore County High School is located at 155 N College St, Eclectic, Alabama, 36024.