• 45°

Loyd Star rips out Sacred’s heart

The Loyd Star Hornets broke a first-quarter stalemate against Sacred Heart and lived the good life for the rest of Friday night’s game, opening their season with a 45-13 win on the road in Hattiesburg.

Coach Brian Ford said his defense was able to absorb some talented offensive players for the Region 4-1A Crusaders, holding them to six points for most of the game until a garbage-time touchdown broke into double digits. In the meantime, the Hornets pulled away in the second quarter and controlled the second half, running several backs behind their seasoned offensive line and getting game time for underclassmen.

“These guys put in a lot of time and they deserve the victory,” Ford said. “We’ve got too many guys to mention. Some of our guys played every snap on both side of the ball — they worked hard to get themselves into good shape and we’re real proud of them.”

Loyd Star fought Sacred Heart to a 6-6 tie by the end of the first quarter, but the Hornets’ offense opened up in the second and left the Crusaders stranded. Senior quarterback Dane Smith completed his first eight passes and likely surprised the opposing team — Loyd Star is known for their big offensive line and ground game — leaving senior rusher Quan Berry to dart through the holes.

The Hornets were up 27-6 at halftime. They would add another 18 points in cruise mode in the second half, shutting down the Crusaders’ offense until the last few moments.

“I don’t think they expected us to be able to pass the ball,” Ford said. “We were able to control things pretty good in the second half.”

Unfortunately, the Hornets were not able to leave Hattiesburg completely unscathed — Ford said Berry suffered an ankle injury, the extent of which is not yet known. If Berry is unable to go next week against McLaurin, Ford said the Loyd Star offense would run by committee, with sophomore Eric Birch and freshman Versie Wilson sharing carries sith the teams “capable” fullbacks — seniors Zach Baker, Zach Nevels and Je’Marion Clay.

The big win will be sweet over the weekend, but Ford said the Hornets need to put in more work before they host the Tigers next Friday. Loyd Star gave up three turnovers to Sacred Heart, and the coach was less than pleased with some big give-ups in the defensive backfield.

“I saw McLaurin this spring. They’ve got some athletes on the field they didn’t have last year,” Ford said. “They’re going to pound the ball, but they’ve also got enough athletes on the field this year to spread you out.”

Loyd Star, Region 7-2A, starts the 2018 season off right at 1-0. They host McLaurin, Region 6-3A, at 7 p.m. next Friday, Aug. 24.