Helena dominates Chelsea in opening night win behind strong performance on both sides

Published 11:12 pm Thursday, August 24, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor 

HELENA – The Helena Huskies made an emphatic statement to open the season with a 50-14 win over the Chelsea Hornets on Thursday, Aug. 24 in Helena. 

The Huskies got the job done with five rushing touchdowns, with three of them coming from Jeremy Spratling, who burst onto the scene in the second half after Jordan Washington scored two of his own in the first half as both went for more than 100 yards and a combined five touchdowns.

Washington was the game’s leading rusher with 153 yards off 16 carries to go with his two touchdowns, and Spratling had 117 yards from 10 carries and three scores.

Helena opened the game with a lengthy 12-play drive that started with back-to-back first down runs from Washington. 

Once they got downfield, new Helena quarterback Carson Acker started testing his arm, and thanks to a couple pass interference calls, he was able to hit Torrey Ward for the 21-yard touchdown to put the Huskies up 7-0. 

After Acker finished his first start with 7-for-13 passing for 164 yards and two touchdowns, Helena head coach Richie Busby praised his quarterback for enduring the long journey it has taken for him to become the Huskies starter.

“Carson is a smart kid,” Helena head coach Richie Busby said. “He’s been in our program for four years and he finally got his chance. I’m tickled to death for him because he’s never complained, always came to practice and has done everything we asked, and now it’s his turn to start.”

Chelsea responded with a long drive of its own, starting out with quick snaps and continuing with short yardage plays. Once in the red zone, Dotson went for Anthony Lanzi in the end zone on third down, but the pass was incomplete in coverage. 

After missing out on six points, Chelsea went for three and missed the field goal to give the Huskies the ball on Helena’s own 21. 

That field position didn’t matter as Washington burst through the tackles and ripped off a 79-yard touchdown run to increase Helena’s lead to 13. 

Once Chelsea went three and out, the Huskies had a great opportunity to add to their lead in Hornets territory, but a block in the back wiped out a Hunter Hale touchdown and Chelsea blocked the ensuing field goal try. 

The Hornets responded by opening the second quarter with a 40-yard rushing touchdown from Emerson Russell to open the scoring for Chelsea and cut the Huskies’ lead to 6. 

Helena immediately struck back with an 82-yard Hunter Hale touchdown catch after the Huskies started the drive on their own 3-yard line, which increased their lead to 19-7. Hale finished with 98 receiving yards off three receptions.

After Chelsea had to quickly punt the ball again, Washington finished off another Helena drive with a punch in touchdown from the 1-yard line to go up 26-7. 

The Hornets struck back with a lengthy drive full of short offensive gains that eventually led to a throw to Lanzi that got Chelsea to the 2-yard line, which was good enough for Russell to score again and make Helena’s lead just 26-14 going into halftime. 

Once both sides came out of the locker room, it was all Helena in the second half, and they cruised to the win behind Spratling’s three scores. 

Spratling’s scoring opened with Helena’s first drive of the second half with the Huskies already up 26-14. With the momentum hanging in the balance, the Huskies got within the 10-yard line before Spratling scored his first touchdown of the night to increase the lead to 33-14. 

After the Huskies had a lengthy drive in their own territory end in a field goal, Spratling got another 6-yard score to give Helena a 43-14 lead. 

On Helena’s next drive, Spratling made his biggest statement of the night with a 92-yard touchdown run that closed out the scoring and sealed the deal on a 50-14 opening night win for the Huskies.

Helena finished the game with 428 yards of total offense versus 263 for Chelsea. Washington totaled 135 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to lead the Huskies, while Spratling added 105 yards and three touchdowns.

Russell led the way for Chelsea with 118 rushing yards, including 100 in the first half alone, to go with his two touchdowns.

Helena will host Buckhorn next week on Sept. 1, while Chelsea will have their home opener against Calera in Week 2.

Chelsea stats provided by Mark McLaughlin.