Chelsea wins battle with Oak Mountain for second straight over rival

Published 11:36 pm Friday, September 15, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

CHELSEA – For the second year in a row, the Chelsea Hornets were able to walk away victorious against rival Oak Mountain on Friday, Sept. 15, never trailing en route to a 21-13 win on their home field.

Chelsea capitalized on strong special teams play in the win, using a blocked kick returned for a touchdown and a missed extra point from the Eagles to help shift momentum on two different occasions in the win to improve to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in region play.

“I thought we played well and so proud of the way our kids fought their hearts out the entire game,” Chelsea head coach Todd Cassity said after the win. “I am also proud of Oak Mountain as they played so hard. Coach McComb is doing a great job and the Eagles are playing really good football.”

Chelsea opened the scoring quickly in the first quarter, driving right down the field to open the game with Carter Dotson’s arm leading the Hornets inside the red zone, eventually leading to a 5-yard touchdown run from Emerson Russell to put the Hornets in front 7-0.

It was part of a fast start for the two teams in what looked like it might turn into a back-and-forth battle up and down the field.

Oak Mountain’s quick response came in just a few plays, as the Eagles marched 80 yards in nine plays with Jacob Porco scoring the game tying touchdown to even the score 7-7 through the first seven minutes of action.

The game came to a screeching halt after that with both defenses making big plays to end the first quarter, which carried throughout the second quarter.

That’s when Chelsea’s special teams unity came up with a huge play.

With Oak Mountain set to kick a field goal to try and take the lead into the halftime break, Anderson Brooks blocked the 40-yard attempt, which led to a scoop and score from Kenny Wesley that put Chelsea in front 14-7 at the half.

“The blocked kick was huge as it was a 10-point swing,” Cassity said. “We really stressed the kicking game in practice this week. Coach PJ Wright worked on the block all week with our guys.”

It was the first of two decisive special teams plays that had an impact on the outcome.

The next came in the third quarter after Oak Mountain scored on the opening possession of the second half when Will O’Dell hit Jayden Aparicio on a 41-yard touchdown pass for what looked to be the game-tying touchdown.

A missed extra point, however, led to Chelsea narrowly clinging to a one-point lead at 14-13 midway through the third quarter.

With both defenses settled into the game, that became the story again for a while, but then came the knockout punch from none other than Russell.

The star senior running back closed out a 156-yard, two-touchdown night with a 15-yard touchdown run with 7:36 remaining to put the Hornets in front 21-13.

From there, Oak Mountain never could string together an offensive drive, as Chelsea’s defense finished off an impressive night to close out the rivalry win.

In addition to Russell on offense, Raymond Bridgeman led the team with 46 receiving yards on three catches, while Brandon Sims led the team with eight tackles and cemented the win with a game-ending interception. Dotson finished with 100 passing yards.

O’Dell finished with 154 yards passing and one touchdown, while he also led the Eagles with 88 yards on the ground.

Next week, Chelsea will travel to Thompson, while Oak Mountain will play host to Tuscaloosa County.

Chelsea stats provided by Mark McLaughlin