Chelsea picks up first shutout since 2010 in win over Calera

Published 11:23 pm Thursday, October 24, 2019

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor 

CHELSEA – Three touchdowns from Collier Blair and a defensive shutout for the first time since 2010 were exactly what the doctor ordered for the Chelsea Hornets coming off three straight losses by three points or less.

Squaring off with county foe Calera on Thursday, Oct. 24, the Hornets shut down Calera’s offense and found just enough explosive plays from Blair and Michael Gibbs to pick up a 28-0 senior-night victory.

“The resilience of these kids is crazy,” head coach Dustin Goodwin said. “They’re extremely tough and they fight extremely hard. We knew they would show up and play. Obviously it’s a good win to get.”

After starting the season by giving up 17 points or less in four games or less, the defense was a bright spot for the Hornets, but having given up 27 or more in their last four, that side of the ball struggled.

Against Calera, however, Chelsea was able to get back to playing with the edge it did in the first four games and it led to the first shutout in nine years.

“They continue to work each week,” Goodwin said of that side of the ball. “Injuries on defense, hard luck and some mistakes have cost us the last few weeks, but they’ve kept a good attitude. They’ve done everything we ask of them to the best of their ability, and ultimately, that’s all we can ask.”

Offensively, the Hornets got the scoring started thanks to the special teams setting them up with good field position.

Following a three-and-out from the Chelsea offense, Calera fumbled the ball on the ensuing punt return and gave the Hornets the ball back at the Eagles’ 27-yard line.

One play later, senior quarterback Caleb Moore hit senior wide receiver Michael Gibbs for a 27-yard touchdown pass to put the Hornets on top 7-0 less than three minutes into the opening quarter.

Both defenses settled in after that, however, which led to neither team scoring the rest of the quarter.

But four minutes into the second quarter, Blair struck for the first time. After he picked up a 26-yard run and Adam Reaves added a 46-yard run and 13-yard run, Blair punched in his first touchdown of the game from a yard out to put Chelsea in front 14-0 with 7:55 to play in the first half.

That led to the half, but the two biggest plays from Blair came in the second half.

The first came with 6:13 remaining in the in the third quarter on fourth down. Moore stepped up in the pocket and hit Blair on a short post route over the middle of the field. With a defender draped on his back, Blair broke the tackle and took it to the house for a 38-yard touchdown to put the Hornets up 21-0.

Five minutes later, he found the end zone again. This time, he was able to get around the right edge and hit the sideline after breaking a couple more tackles, before eventually sprinting to the rest of the way for a 25-yard touchdown to close out the scoring.

“My main mindset when I have the ball is to get in the end zone,” Blair said. “I try to find my blockers and hit my assignment then see the field.”

Blair also noted that his success was due to the game plan coming in.

“It was just us executing our game plan,” Blair said. “They stacked the box, so we had to spread them wide to create holes, and they were playing man so that opened up some deep shots too.”

Blair finished the game with 13 carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, while adding two receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown. Reaves finished with three carries for 46 yards.

Defensively, Grayson Maddox, Chandler Pruitt, Jordan Smith, Cole Berryman, Colby Clements and Jack O’Neal all had big nights.

Calera was led by Blake Shoddie with 21 carries for 84 yards in the game.

The win helped Chelsea regain some confidence going into the final week of the regular season after three consecutive losses by three points or less.

The Hornets will now travel to Pell City on Friday, Nov. 1, while Calera will come back home for a matchup with the Helena Huskies.