Area football:Hornets crush the McLaurin Tigers at home 39-6

Published 7:51 pm Saturday, August 27, 2016

Photo by Amy Rhoads/    A McLaurin ballcarrier is wrapped up by linebacker Jackevious Coleman (No. 50) as Ray Richardson pursues the play in Friday night’s contest between the two teams.

Photo by Amy Rhoads/
A McLaurin ballcarrier is wrapped up by linebacker Jackevious Coleman (No. 50) as Ray Richardson pursues the play in Friday night’s contest between the two teams.

It took the Loyd Star offense a little while to get going against McLaurin Friday night, but once it did the Tigers stood no chance of derailing it.

The Hornets’ stingy, physical defense and punishing ground game bolstered Loyd Star to a 39-6 victory over McLaurin in their home opener. The Hornets avenged last year’s heartbreaking loss to the Tigers with the win.

“I thought our kids played well as far as effort. We were motivated to win against them after how we lost to them last year,” Loyd Star head coach Adam Cook said.

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The Hornets bulled their way to 384 rushing yards. Zac Arnold led all rushers with 179 yards and two touchdowns, with Primetime 23 linebacker Parker Flowers tallying 157 rushing yards and two scores of his own. Senior quarterback Michael Harvey went 4-9 for 86 yards and one score in the victory.

Sophomore Primetime 23 wide receiver James Beard gave the McLaurin defense fits with his versatility. The All-State return man had 125 punt return yards, one touchdown rushing and one receiving. His shiftiness and playmaking ability on punt returns was pivotal to the Hornets’ offense, as his big returns set the offense up with prime field position on several occasions.

“James is a threat when he steps on the field,” Cook said. “Anyone that wants to kick to him better be prepared. I could play him at any position. He is just a special player.”

The offense, particularly the offensive line, put on a great performance but the defensive effort from the Hornets was nothing short of brilliant. They gave the Tigers’ defense little to nothing in the game, forcing them to punt countless times and imposing their will with physical, hard-nosed play.

Konner Allen was in the zone for the Hornets, as the senior linebacker tallied three sacks and seven tackles. Zabien Price and Flowers each had five tackles on the night.

The first quarter was relatively quiet offensively, as both teams took a while to feel each other out. Loyd Star registered the lone score of the quarter after Beard brought a punt return inside the 20-yard line and scored on the next play on an end around. The missed field goal by Flowers brought the score to 6-0.

The Hornets had several big drives in the quarter but were stalled by turnovers and penalties. Arnold, Loyd Star’s bruising back, fumbled twice in the quarter but Cook said it was important to show confidence in the senior during his time of adversity.

“I just told him that he was going to get the touches regardless because he’s our guy. He is a heck of an athlete and we have to get him the ball,” he said.
Later in the game, Arnold would be seen running down the sideline with both hands wrapped firmly around the ball with no defenders in sight.

“It was good to see him get back to the fundamentals after he had been having troubles early,” Cook said.

In the second quarter McLaurin attempted to use the element of surprise by way of a fake punt, but fumbled and saw it recovered by the Hornets. Flowers took advantage of the opportunity and scored on a 49-yard run.

After the defense forced yet another punt, the Loyd Star offense promptly marched down field and punched in another score on a run by Arnold to extend their lead to 19-0 with 3:29 in the second quarter.

Yet again, the Hornets’ defense stood strong and got the ball back for the offense. With time expiring in the second quarter, they engineered a quick touchdown drive capped by an improbable 32-yard touchdown run by Flowers. The Hornets took a 26-0 lead into the half after the field goal attempt was successful.

McLaurin seemed to be gaining ground on the Hornets after forcing them to punt, but a costly fumble gave Cook’s team the ball back. Harvey connected with Beard in the endzone for a touchdown soon after to push their advantage to 33-0 after the field goal sailed through the uprights.

The Hornets forced another punt and Arnold took in another score to make the score 39-0. McLaurin scored their lone touchdown of the night after Marquez Wells took it in from 31 yards out.

“We kept things extremely simple, but simple works because it takes the thinking out of the game and gives our kids a chance to react,” Cook said. “Offensively, we need to cut down on the turnovers and penaties and defensively we just need to sharpen the edge and continue to get better moving forward.”

The Hornets will head to Hattiesburg to face Sacred Heart for their next game.

The Crusaders are fresh off a 45-8 drubbing of the West Lincoln bears.
The Hornets defeated the Crusaders 28-27 in their matchup last season.