Chelsea stings Hazel Green

In the midst of a tough season, Chelsea made sure homecoming would be a bright spot as the Hornets (3-5) defeated the Hazel Green Trojans (0-8) Friday, 34-14.

Garrett Salter remained another pick-me-up for the Hornets, as the senior running back-slash-workhorse racked up 159 yards on 29 carries, as well as three of the Hornets’ five touchdowns.

The two teams traded fumbles in the first quarter, as neither squad could find an offensive rhythm.

At the beginning of the second quarter, however, Chelsea’s Zac Hilliard broke the game wide open by intercepting a Hazel Green pass at the Trojan 32 and running it back to the end zone. His touchdown run was called back on a block in the back penalty, but it got the Hornets fired up and gave them the momentum they needed.

Starting at the Hazel Green 23, the Hornets only needed six plays for Salter to punch the ball in from the 3-yard line and start the scoring. Blake Yance’s extra point was good, giving Chelsea a 7-0 lead.

The Chelsea defense held, allowing the Hornets to get the ball back at their own 18. Yance drove them down the field to the Hazel Green 35, where he threw a pass that got tipped right into the waiting arms of a defender. On the next play, however, Hazel Green fumbled, and Chelsea had a golden scoring opportunity at the Trojan 29.

On first down, Yance threw a quick pass to tight end John Calhoun, who took the ball to the 5-yard-line. On the very next play, Salter ran around the corner for his second touchdown of the night. Yance’s kick was good to put Chelsea up 14-0.

On Hazel Green’s next drive, Hornet Luke Moore intercepted a pass and was brought down at the Trojan 25. Immediately, Yance threw a 25-yard floater straight into the end zone and the outstretched arms of Blake Woo. The point after was good for a three-touchdown lead, 21-0, as the game went to halftime.

The third quarter was a defensive battle until Chelsea’s final drive of the quarter. Moore took a Hazel Green punt to Chelsea’s 40-yard-line, and from there it only took three plays to get 60 yards and six points. Hilliard ripped off a 25-yard run, Yance followed with an 18-yard quarterback keeper and Salter topped it off with a winding, spinning 17-yard touchdown run.

Yance’s kick was blocked, leaving Chelsea in the lead 27-0.

At the beginning of the fourth stanza, the Hornets started at their own 37 and marched down the field, aided by a personal foul on Hazel Green. On third-and-1 from the Hazel Green 8, Yance handed the ball to Andrew Ling, who found pay dirt and another six. Freshman kicker Austin Rikard’s extra point was good for a 34-0 lead.

Hazel Green finally came alive after that, scoring two quick touchdowns, but it was far too little and way too late.

Chelsea Head Coach Wade Waldrop said the team is still fighting to get better although the playoffs are out of reach.

“We had a very good week of practice. They’re still working hard and fighting hard,” he said. “We’ve got a big game next Friday against Shelby County (8-0). They’re undefeated. It’s going to be tough next Friday. We’ll keep working and hopefully keep getting better.”

The Hornets will host Shelby County Friday at 7 p.m., looking to build off last year’s last-minute win in the heated rivalry.