Letting loose: Palmer, Hornets run away with Region 5 title

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Davin Palmer proved to be the difference maker in the Chelsea Hornets&8217; shocking 14-7 win over Briarwood Christian School, while on the road for the 5A Region 5 crown last Friday night.

Palmer rushed 16 times for 145 yards including an 86-yard touchdown run to tie the game in the third quarter.

But he was not alone in earning the victory. Chelsea quarterback Coty McLaughlin completed 10 of 14 pass attempts for 106 yards, including a 6-yard pass to Jason Thurman for the go-ahead score.

And then there was the Hornets&8217; defensive effort.

Chelsea turned the ball over three times on Palmer fumbles and still held the Briarwood Christian Lions to 7 points.

While the Lions&8217; Barrett Trotter completed 22 of 39 passes for 222 yards and the first touchdown of the game, the Chelsea defense picked him off four times.

The Hornets also held the Lions to 63 yards on the ground.

The Chelsea offense rushed for 191 yards and passed for another 106 yards for a total offensive production of 279 yards.

The contest opened ominously, however, for the visiting Hornets when a blocked punt put Briarwood in business at the Hornets&8217; 34-yard line.

Moments later Trotter connected with Race Harrison on a 9-yard pass play for the score. Matthew Gordon added the point after, and with 8:57 left in the first quarter Briarwood led 7-0.

Chelsea struck twice in the third quarter, however.

Davin Palmer stunned the crowd as he sprinted 86 yards for a touchdown. Matt Jordan added the PAT, and the Hornets had new life.

Chelsea sealed the win with a 6-yard pass from McLaughlin to Thurman and Jordan PAT.

The conclusion of the contest did not appear so certain in the fourth quarter, as Briarwood made one last push.

By sacking Trotter, Chelsea&8217;s David Stride put Briarwood in a fourth down pass situation at the Chelsea 42.

The ill-fated pass to follow was intercepted by none other than Palmer.

&8220;They played a great game, and I give them credit. They were prepared. They played hard, and they made us make mistakes,&8221; said Briarwood head football coach Fred Yancey.

When questioned about the 100 yards in penalties suffered by his Lions, he said, &8220;I can&8217;t control officials, and I can&8217;t complain. I wish we were not getting penalties, but that&8217;s our job to not do those things.&8221;

When asked about Palmer, Yancey said, &8220;He is great. He didn&8217;t do anything to make me think less of him.&8221;

Chelsea head football coach Wade Waldrop said, &8220;Our kids worked so hard. They worked as hard as anybody, and they deserved this.&8221;

He said, however, his team couldn&8217;t make turnovers like they have been and win in the playoffs.

Waldrop said Chelsea had to throw against Briarwood and both McLaughlin and the team&8217;s receivers all did a great job.

Palmer caught four passes for 41 yards, Thurman caught two passes for 16 yards and a touchdown and Brandon Sherrill caught two passes for 32 yards.

Trotter and Will Noel were leading rushers for Briarwood with 38 and 34 yards each.

Leading receivers for the Lions included Harrison for 65 yards and a touchdown, John Byers for 69 yards and Nathaniel Carlson for 48 yards.

Briarwood running back Jonathan Sillers did not play against Chelsea.

Leading Briarwood defenders include Lance Coggins with 8 assists, two solos and a fumble recovery and Gil Townes with three solos, six assists, a caused fumbled and a sack.

&8220;We had kids on the field that could have won, but I think Chelsea did a good job of stopping them,&8221; Yancey said.

The 7-2, 6-1 Lions will next travel to play 6A Jackson-Olin at Legion Field while Chelsea (8-1, 7-0) will travel to play 5A Shelby County at Papa McCombs Stadium