Chelsea picks up first win of season against Minor

Published 11:22 pm Friday, October 19, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

CHELSEA – Through seven games this season, the Chelsea Hornets found themselves at 0-7 overall, but with three losses by seven points or less and one by 13 points, the Hornets were on the verge of breaking through.

On Friday, Oct. 19, Chelsea finally did bust down the wall and end its losing streak with a 31-27 victory against the Minor Tigers in front of a celebratory home crowd.

It didn’t come easy, and it didn’t come without some drama late, but thanks to an interception from Nolan Forehand with just over a minute remaining to prevent a Minor go-ahead touchdown, the Hornets were able to preserve their first win of the season to improve to 1-7 overall.

Leading up to that moment, the Hornets were rolling offensively before storming in front in the fourth quarter.

Entering the second half, Chelsea found itself trailing 27-17 after a back-and-forth first quarter that saw the two teams in a battle, but the Hornets were always behind by three or 10 points in the first two quarters.

The 10-point halftime lead came thanks to a ton of action in the final two minutes of the second quarter with Chelsea cutting the lead to three points with just over a minute left in the half thanks to an 11-yard pass from quarterback Turner Griffin to Todd Justice, before the Tigers answered back quickly with a long touchdown pass to take the 10-point lead into the half.

Trailing by 10 entering the second half, the Hornets were able to score quickly to start the half thanks to a strong drive that saw Griffin punch in a short touchdown run to bring his team back within three yet again.

This time, Chelsea’s defense stepped up and wasn’t going to let the lead get back to 10 points.

Instead, we saw the game go into a stalemate over the next quarter, before the Hornets got the ball back with right around six-and-a-half minutes left in the game trailing by three points.

With it likely being their last good opportunity with time remaining, Chelsea took advantage and went on a drive down inside the Minor 15-yard line.

Sitting on the 13-yard line, Griffin took the snap, back pedaled and released a pass into the end zone to a wide open Michael Gibbs who had beaten two defenders for the go-ahead touchdown.

Now up 31-27 with 5:11 to play, the Hornets had to hold off Minor as they had the rest of the second half.

The Tigers, however, still had some fight and offense left in them, eventually going on a nice drive.

Minor was able to drive all the way down inside the Chelsea 10-yard line to the 7 looking to steal the game a minute-and-a-half remaining.

Instead, that’s when Forehand jumped in front of a Minor pass to intercept it and make a play for a Hornets’ defense that has played well the last two years in difficult circumstances and desperately wanted an opportunity to make a game-changing play.

His interceptions with just over a minute left with Minor on the verge of winning the game, preserved a 31-27 victory for the Hornets.

Gibbs led Chelsea in receiving with four receptions for 59 yards, including his 13-yard game-winning touchdown catch. Lando Nichols also added four receptions for 45 yards, while four other receivers ended the game with 30-plus receiving yards.

Griffin finished the game 19-for-31 with 344 yards and two touchdowns after getting several receivers involved. He also added one rushing touchdown and 32 rushing yards. Collier Blair led the Hornets on the ground with 48 yards on 22 attempts.

Todd Justice led the defense with 7.5 tackles.

Chelsea will now take on another 1-7 team next week looking for its second win in a row, as they’ll travel to take on the Calera Eagles.

Chelsea statistician Mark McLaughlin contributed to this story