STORY BY: JORDAN MESEROLE
HUNTSVILLE — With a few minutes left in the first quarter, the Rudder Rangers looked like they were settling in for a close battle against the Huntsville Hornets.
And then, the Hornets put up 26 unanswered points en route to cruising to a 47-21 victory Friday night at Bower Stadium in Huntsville.
The Rangers (1-3, 1-1) had trouble figuring out the Huntsville (2-2, 1-1) offense all night, allowing 612 total yards of offense including 374 rushing yards that came through 12 different players to run the ball for the Hornets.
Huntsville posted the first points in the game, marching 51 yards down the field on 6 plays, capped off by a 9-yard touchdown run by Hornet junior quarterback Malik Brown.
Rudder would turn around to string together their own 74 yard scoring drive to respond to Huntsville, as Ranger senior running back Tre Guyton dashed 7-yards into the end zone with 3:13 left in the first quarter to tie the game at 7-7.
One play later, the game came unraveled for the Rangers.
Brown, on what appeared to be a broken-down play for the Hornets, scrambled sideline-to-sideline, and eventually back up the middle of the field for a 71-yard touchdown run with 3:08 in the first quarter to push the score to 13-7. Brown finished the night as one of Huntsville’s top performers, rushing for 89 yards, passing for another 238, and posted three total scores.
Things continued to turn sour for the Rangers in the first half, as Rudder was marching down the field stringing together what appeared to be a potential scoring drive, but was abruptly halted when senior quarterback Luke Piper fumbled the ball near the 30-yard line with 8:22 left in the second quarter, which was recovered by Huntsville.
The Hornets made Rudder pay for the mistake on the ensuing drive, capping it off with a 4-yard touchdown run by senior back Jerel Hall, moving the score to 19-7 shortly before halftime.
In the second half, Huntsville opened up its passing game, as Brown quickly marched the Hornets down the field to cap off a 5-play drive in the third quarter with a 26-yard touchdown pass to junior running back James Burns.
In the perhaps lone bright point of the game, on the next possession Guyton scrambled 67 yards down the sideline to easy cruise into the endzone with 9:03 left in the third quarter, moving the score to 33-14. Guyton finished the night as Rudder’s top performer, with 150 rushing yards and the two scores. It is the fourth time this season that Guyton has surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark in a game.
The Huntsville offense effectively managed the clock the entire second half however, and continued to move down the field and score, including on an 85-yard touchdown run by Burns in the fourth quarter. Burns was the top rusher for Huntsville, racking up 162 yards and two scores.
Rudder junior running back Anthony Veal tacked on another rushing touchdown with 2:55 left in the fourth quarter, coming after the Rangers had recovered a mishandled punt snap by Huntsville, but it was too little too late, as the Hornets were able to run time down and seal in the 47-21 victory.
Rudder returns home to Merrill Green Stadium next Friday in a district matchup against Caney Creek.