Chelsea falls to Vestavia as Hornets score three times against top 10 defense

Published 1:43 am Saturday, October 7, 2023

By SETH HAGAN | Special to the Reporter

CHELSEA – The Chelsea Hornets showed some fight against the visiting Vestavia Hills Rebels, but ultimately succumbed to the top ten squad on Friday, Oct 6.

Their three touchdowns were the most in a region loss since a 42-21 loss to Tuscaloosa County, but this performance far outweighed that one and gave the Hornets something to build on in the 45-21 final.

Vestavia scored on their first drive of the night, going 80 yards in five plays, but Chelsea wasn’t overwhelmed to start out.

Quarterback Carter Dotson calmly led his team down the field with two first down passes to Nick Sulenski to get Chelsea in the red zone.

Three plays later, Dotson fired across the middle to Raymond Bridgeman, who made a great contested catch at the goal line to match the Rebels’ first drive score.

The long touchdown drive served as a wake-up call for the Rebels, who scored on each of their next three drives of the first half to put some distance between themselves and the Hornets with a 28-7 lead.

Vestavia would only get a field goal the rest of the way and led 31-7 at the half.

The Rebels added touchdowns on their first two possessions of the third quarter, but Hayden Beauman boosted the Chelsea offense at quarterback.

On the very next drive, Beauman and the offense quickly made their way down the field with a couple of quarterback runs and a few more connections downfield for Sulenski, who made plays all night.

His 35-yard reception put the Hornets inside the 5-yard line and he hit pay dirt on the next play to make the score 45-14 at the end of the third.

Dotson re-entered the game at QB and, again, Sulenski gave him a prime-time target.

Two more huge catches brought Chelsea back into Rebel territory and Morgan Barnes did the rest from the running back position.

He clocked four rushes on the final scoring drive and busted his way across the goal line for a 2-yard touchdown to cap the drive and the evening for the Hornets.

Chelsea went 13-for-25 passing for 272 yards between Dotson and Beauman. Sulenski was their top target with eight catches for 138 yards.

The running game eclipsed 100 yards rushing without normal starter Emerson Russell. Barnes had nine carries for 51 yards and Chase Stracener ran 10 times for 26 yards.

Chelsea (2-5, 1-3 Region 3) will travel to Spain Park next for a region matchup on Friday, Oct 13 at 7 p.m.

Chelsea stats provided by Mark McLaughlin.