By Rick Lanier
for the Opelika Observer
The Beauregard Hornets (1-1) came out of the nest buzzing Friday night with a dominate run game and big plays from the defense to handle the Booker T. Washington (BTW) Golden Tigers (1-1), 29-22, in a slug-fest at Richard L. Brown Stadium, earning their first win of the young season.
From the start, Beauregard’s offense took control marching down the field. A 43-yard scamper around the left end by running back Qua Barnes set up the Hornets for their first score less than four minutes into the game.
The Golden Tigers effectively counter-punched as they took the ensuing kick-off, returned it deep in Hornet territory, scored within two plays, converted a two-point conversion — and just like that —had taken the lead 8-7.
Throughout the rest of the first half, the two offenses landed jabs and delivered blows. That is, however, until Beauregard defensive back Kyan Maloy intercepted a Golden Tiger pass to put the Hornets back in business at BTW’s 30 yard-line. Two plays later, quarterback Trent Moulton connected with receiver Logan Ballew on a 20-yard pass to give Beauregard the lead at 14-8.
Not to be outdone, BTW completed a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone on its next drive, and after another successful two-point conversion, took a 16-14 lead to the locker room at halftime.
The second half began with the Hornet defense forcing a three-and-out on BTW’s first possession, but what followed was perhaps the future of Hornet football being put on full display by head coach Justin Jones.
With Beauregard’s grizzled offensive line, Jones handed the offense over to the dynamic duo of quarterback Cayden Adkins (freshman) and running back Z.J. Grady (freshman). The pair took control with dynamic and punishing runs up-and-down the field. So effective was the running game, Beauregard would attempt only one pass in the second half — the rest of the way was the ground-and-pound show. By the end of the night, Adkins had thrown for one touchdown and ran for three more (18 carries for 71 yards), while Grady would run for 77 yards on 14 carries as the Hornets took a 29-22 lead into the fourth quarter.
“Those are two young guys,” Jones said after the game. “They’re still trying to figure it out at full speed right now. They don’t look like ninth graders, and the reason they’re out there is because they don’t play like ninth graders.”
Despite the successful youth movement on offense, as is the case more times than not, the balance of the game rested with the Hornet defense. With the score 29-22 Beauregard, the Hornet’s defense, led by the outstanding play of Maloy, turned away the Tigers on their last scoring opportunity to preserve the Hornet win.
“The defense played well tonight,” Jones said. “[They] made a few mistakes, but played well when they needed to, and Kyan is a college level defensive back and he showed that tonight.”
Next week, the Hornets begin regional play on the road as they head to Talladega to take on the Tigers of Talladega High School on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Talladega High School is located at 1177 McMillan St. E. in Talladega, Alabama.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CST.