Second half comeback gives Chelsea second win in a row

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–In a matchup in which two region teams desperately needed a victory, it was the Chelsea Hornets who used a strong second half performance for a 24-17 come-from-behind victory on the road against Helena on Friday, Oct. 27.

Helena was celebrating senior night as a number of players suited up for the last time in a Huskies’ uniform on their home field and the emotions ran high to start the game.

Helena got the ball to start the game and wasted no time as senior running back Matthew Williams burst through the line for a 50-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage deep into Chelsea territory.

On the very next play, running back Ralph Holsey polished off the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run that put Helena up 7-0 less than 30 seconds into the game.

Despite being punched in the mouth early, Chelsea responded with a couple of third down conversions by running back Kendrick Simpson on their first drive that led to a 22-yard field goal by kicker Tanner Middleton making it 7-3 halfway through the first quarter.

On their next possession, Helena faced a fourth-and-3 from its own 34-yard line when Holsey took the snap on a fake punt and rumbled down the near sideline to the Hornets 35-yard line to pick up the first down.

Helena quarterback Luke Stamba started in place of injured Lawson Peoples and continued throwing to his favorite target, senior wide receiver Justin Stuckey.

Stamba connected with Stuckey on third-and-7 for a 20-yard touchdown pass as Stuckey dove for the pylon to put the Huskies up 14-3 after the first quarter.

Chelsea once again responded after the Huskies scored as several runs by Simpson helped put the Hornets in Helena territory.

Eventually, running back Collier Blair would cap off the 12-play 64-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run to cut Helena’s lead to 14-10 with 10:48 to go until halftime. Blair would finish the game with three touchdowns.

The Chelsea defense would then make a big stop as they stuffed Helena on a fourth-and-1 to take over on downs and keep the Huskies off the scoreboard.

After the turnover, Chelsea was unable to put up any points and punted the ball back to Helena.

The Huskies drove the ball to the Chelsea 15-yard line late in the first half but faced a fourth down and settled for a 32-yard field goal to make it 17-10 at halftime.

The difference in the second half for Chelsea was more physical play and controlling the line of scrimmage and the Hornets gradually wore down the Huskies defense.

“It’s what we do this year,” Chelsea head coach Chris Elmore said of the run first offense. “We’re a run-heavy team and two tight end and sometimes a three-back offense and we just kept staying the course and blocked them a little better the second half and our backs ran really hard I thought. We played a physical second half and that’s what the difference was.”

Chelsea’s longest scoring play of the night came at a clutch time in the third quarter to tie the game.

Facing a third-and-15, Chelsea quarterback Turner Griffin found Blair who broke a tackle and scooted down the sideline for a 25-yard touchdown to tie the game 17-17 with 7:41 to go in the third quarter.

After forcing a three-and-out, Chelsea got the ball back and capped off a 9-play 32-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Blair to give the Hornets their first lead of the game at 24-17 late in the third quarter.

Miscues in the fourth quarter by Helena gave away any chance to tie the game as Stamba threw an interception with about nine minutes remaining. Late in the game, a dropped pass by Stuckey on fourth down that would’ve picked up a first down sealed the comeback for Chelsea.

“I’m just happy for our kids again,” Elmore said. “It’s been a long year and they have continued to battle every week and so I know they’re happy to get this one. Anytime you beat somebody locally it’s good so I know they’re happy to get this one. In a game that we had to come from behind to win that we haven’t been able to do all year so I think that was a positive thing toward the end of the season.”

Chelsea is now 4-0 all-time against Helena and improved their record to 2-7 on the season. The Hornets will take on Cullman in the final game of the season on Nov. 3.

With the loss, Helena fell to 1-8 and will travel to Pell City on Nov. 3, to finish the regular season.