Chelsea falls behind to Hoover running game in loss

Published 1:26 am Saturday, October 21, 2023

By NIC YOUNG | Special to the Reporter

CHELSEA – The relentless second half rushing attack of the Hoover Buccaneers was too much for the Chelsea Hornets to handle as they fell 41-7.

The Hornets began their opening drive on their own 20-yard line and moved up to the Hoover 40-yard line before back-to-back negative plays put them behind schedule. Facing a fourth and long situation, Chelsea attempted to surprise Hoover by dialing up a fake punt run. The Bucs defense seemed to be caught off guard by this but managed to stop the Hornets a few yards short of the markers.

Beginning at their own 36-yard line, the Hoover offense quickly made its way into Hornet territory. The Bucs’ momentum began to cease when they reached the Chelsea 20-yard line.  Three straight incompletions forced Hoover to attempt a 35-yard field goal that ended up being unsuccessful.

Taking over at their own 25-yard line, the Hornets benefitted from a pair of false start penalties by the Buccaneers to get things moving.  The offense began to slow as Chelsea approached their 40-yard line, resulting in a punt a few plays later.

The second quarter saw the Bucs strike first off a 67-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Jonah Winston to give Hoover a 7-0 lead.

The Hornets opened their following possession firing on all cylinders. A series of strong runs by running back Emerson Russell and quarterbacks Hayden Bauman and Carter Dotson opened the door for Dotson to find Jaxon Shuttlesworth on a screen pass for a 35-yard gain to put the Chelsea offense at the Hoover 25-yard line. Shortly after, Dotson was able to connect with Nick Sulenski to put the Hornets on the scoreboard and tie the score at 7-7.

The Bucs leaned on the rushing efforts of running back Fredrick Dunson, and receivers Kamal Anderson and Winston to move them down the field with Winston capping off the drive with a 48-yard touchdown run to give the lead back to Hoover 14-7.

Operating with around two minutes left in the half, Hoover quarterback Noah Schuback connected with Jordan Woolen on a 49-yard pass to put the offense at the Chelsea 6-yard line. The Hornets defense stood tall and forced the Bucs into a fourth-down situation with less than 10 seconds in the half. Opting for a field goal attempt once again yielded the same result for the Bucs as they missed as time expired in the half, leaving the score at 14-7.

Hoover opened up the second half still relying heavily on their ground game. This drive saw Dunson and Winston handle a majority of the touches. Winston struck once again, scoring another touchdown on the ground to extend the Bucs lead to 21-7.

Russell got the next Chelsea drive off on the right foot, running for a 19-yard gain on the first play to put the Hornets in Hoover territory at the 46-yard line. The rest of the drive would unfortunately not match this production. Three straight incompletions, including one on fourth down, put a quick end to the offensive series.

The Chelsea defense was once again unable to halt the Bucs running attack. Beginning around midfield, Hoover put together a short offensive series that concluded with a Dunson touchdown run to add to the Hoover lead, 28-7.

A kickoff miscue placed the Hornets at their own 5-yard to start their next possession.  The offense was unable to generate much, pinned back into their own territory, punting early after a brief 5-play drive.

The Bucs offense made quick work of their possession, scoring on a reverse pass trick play. Following a failed PAT attempt, Hoover led, 34-7.

Special teams mishaps plagued the Hornets once again when a muffed punt resulted in the offense beginning its drive at its own 1-yard line. The offense showcased a sense of urgency this time around as Dotson connected with Shuttlesworth for a 14-yard gain.

Heading into the fourth quarter Chelsea faced a fourth-down situation. A punt seemed to signify the end of this drive, however, a running into the kicker penalty extended the possession for the Hornets. Unfortunately, this second chance was short-lived. An interception return for a touchdown by Hoover linebacker Bradley Shaw closed the door on any momentum on the possession as the Bucs gained a commanding 41-7 lead.

Late in the fourth quarter with the ball once again, the Hornets’ offense gathered momentum as Russell ran for a 71-yard gain to put the Hornets at the Hoover 6-yard line. The promise of this drive was brief as Chelsea would fumble the ball and give possession back to Hoover.

Russell finished the day with 21 carries for 131 yards. Dotson also had 38 rushing yards on eight carries. The Hornets’ leading receiver was Shuttlesworth, who finished with 49 yards off two catches.

The Hornets will look to finish their season out with a win when they take on Hewitt-Trussville Huskies on Oct. 27th.