Hornets to Advance to Round Three of Playoffs with Win over Peachtree Ridge
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by Ty Simons
Defense Holds Lions Scoreless until Fourth Quarter
ROSWELL–The Roswell Hornets will advance in the playoffs after adding a 29-12 victory over the Peachtree Ridge Lions to their so-far perfect season.
A strong performance by the defense, which kept Peachtree Ridge scoreless until the fourth quarter, allowed the team to claim its twelfth straight win of the year. With this game behind them, the Hornets will advance to the quarter-final round of the playoffs, where they will face off against North Cobb High School of Kennesaw.
Though they were held to three-and-out on their first possession of the game, Roswell was able to score on their second offensive drive. Max Boyd and LaMon Titus stopped Peachtree Ridge’s attempt at a fourth-down conversion early in the quarter, allowing the Hornets to take control of the ball at their own 35-yard line. Two plays later, Christian Ford recorded Roswell’s first score of the evening, hauling in a pass from Malik Willis and taking it 68-yards for the score.
Roswell was unable to score for the remainder of the quarter, but a strong defense never allowed a Peachtree Ridge first down and preserved the Hornets’ lead. After the kickoff, Justin Ellis and Koby Cumberlander made back-to-back sacks good for 15 yards and four yards, respectively. LeAnthony Williams intercepted a Peachtree Ridge pass on the Lions’ next possession after that.
The defense kept the heat on in the second quarter. In each of Peachtree Ridge’s three offensive drives, a Hornet made at least one backfield tackle for a loss of yards. On offense, kicker Turner Barckhoff added three points to Roswell’s tally with a 33-yard field goal that rounded out a 79-yard drive. Quarterback Malik Willis led the team on that series, carrying for a total of 66 yards in three plays. For the half, the Roswell defense limited the Lions to a total of 42 yards of offense.
The Hornets next score came midway through the third quarter courtesy of the special teams unit, when Xavier McKinney returned a punt for 62 yards all the way to the endzone to extend the Roswell lead to 16-0. On the Lions next possession, they found some offensive rhythm through the air and managed to drive to the Hornet’s 27-yard line. Once again however, the defense rose up when Cumberlander and Cade Gonzales combined on a QB sack for a loss of 11-yards that effectively ended the threat. After Roswell failed to convert a 4th down on their next drive, McKinney again stepped up, this time with an interception that allowed the Hornets to start an offensive drive from Peachtree Ridge’s own 26-yard line.
In the fourth quarter, the offense picked up steam with a pair of touchdowns. Building off of McKinney’s pick, wide receiver Corey Reed covered most of the distance to the endzone with a 14-yard reception, and Willis kept the ball for a quick two-yard touchdown run to make the score 23-0.
The Hornets appeared to be on their way to a straightforward touchdown on their next offensive drive after Christian Ford completed a reception for 56 yards on Roswell’s first play after the Peachtree Ridge punt. That did not turn out to be the case however. Ford’s completion put Roswell at the Lions’ 25-yard line, but the offense stalled until a second reception by Ford, good for 15 yards, allowed the Hornets to convert on fourth down. Roswell was only seven yards from the endzone at that point, but three consecutive penalty calls against Roswell pushed the the line of scrimmage back dozens of yards, putting the Hornets in the unusual position of first and goal from the 42-yard line. The offense managed to overcome that big obstacle, though, thanks to a spectacular 32-yard catch-and-run by Jayden Comma and a nine-yard touchdown catch by Tyneil Hopper to bring the score to 29-0 with 7 minutes left in the game. While Peachtree Ridge did score twice toward the end of the quarter, that was not nearly enough to end the Hornets’ undefeated season.
Friday’s game against North Cobb will take place on Nov. 25 at Ray Manus Stadium, and will be televised on GPB.