Chelsea defense shows up for crucial region win

Published 12:13 am Saturday, October 16, 2021

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Special to the Reporter

CHELSEA – The Chelsea Hornets kept their playoff hopes alive Friday night, Oct. 15, taking down the Shades Valley Mounties 16-7 at home on homecoming night.

“I think we were able to get a couple scores ahead early, I think that helped,” Chelsea head coach Dustin Goodwin said postgame. “I thought our defense played lights out, especially the goal-line stand there that led to the 99-yard scoring drive right before half.”

The story for the first half was Chelsea’s third down defense. Sacks by Emmanuel Waller and Cody Fortenberry both forced punts on the first two Mounties drives, and on the third drive, Cade Turner broke up a pass downfield in one-on-one coverage to force a third punt.

Before that Turner breakup, Chelsea was the first on the board with a rushing touchdown from Emerson Russell on the left side.

Later in the half, Shades Valley marched down the field and attempted to run the ball in at the 2-yard line, but the Hornets’ defense held steady on third and fourth down to force a change of possession.

That became a key moment.

Chelsea quarterback Hayden Garrison and the Hornets’ offense took over from there and drove 99 yards in just less than two minutes to set up a short pass to Cooper Griffin for a touchdown to go up 14-0 going into the break.

“Our goal on both sides of the ball is to score every time we touch it offensively and to get off the field and hold them defensively,” Goodwin said. “Obviously, keep them from scoring points every time the defense is on the field, and I thought they did a nice job with that tonight.”

The Mounties, however, found end zone on their first drive of the second half thanks to a downfield bomb to Kendell Odom for a 47-yard touchdown which cut the Hornets’ lead to 14-6 after a missed extra point.

On the next drive, after a big third down conversion by Griffin earlier in the drive, Chelsea missed multiple shots to the end zone and settled for a successful 27-yard field goal.

But with the defense’s best performance of the season that became enough to cap off the night’s scoring at 17-6.

From there, the Hornets’ defense proved stout late in the game, especially Fortenberry, who had an interception off his own tipped ball to go with his two sacks on the night, while Brady Clements had a late interception to help seal the game for the Hornets.

The Chelsea defense also had two more fourth down stops for three total in the game.

With the win, Chelsea survived another week in their quest to make the playoffs, and Shades Valley was eliminated from postseason contention.

After the game, coach Goodwin was proud of how his side got up early but saw a few areas for improvement going forward.

Next week, the Hornets play region champion Mountain Brook at home in a big region finale to test their four-game win streak.

“Mountain Brook, they’re a really good football team, they’re the region champs for a reason, so we’re going to have to be able to do things the right way and execute in order to have a chance to compete in the football game,” coach Goodwin said.