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By Bryan Hoopaugh
The Williston Red Devils, coming off a big come-from-behind-win over Taylor County last week sets the stage to face the Hawthorne Hornets tomorrow night at 7:30. Hawthorne will enter the game 0-1 having lost last week to Interlachen in a close fought one point loss 6-7.
Williston is now 2-0 having defeated PK Yonge and Taylor County in their first two home games of the season. The Hornets should be an easier contest than Taylor County since they rank lower in offensive and defensive stats. Hawthorne, only able to score one touchdown in their first contest, should not be the offensive threat we saw last week from the Bulldogs. Williston’s offense has scored 87 points in their first two games and will be the greatest offensive threat Hawthorne has seen thus far.
Runningbacks Devon Webb and Keith Neal have displayed speed and toughness, with Webb rushing for 160 yards against Taylor County and Neal rushing for over 100 yards in both games played rushing for 234 yards last week and contributing 36 of the 87 points Williston has scored.
After last Friday’s come-from-behind 43-40 win, Coach Mike Nattiel said, “This is a new team, this is a new team,” as he walked off the field.
Hawthorne should be another win under the belt of the Red Devils and should be a great uplift for the boys as they will face district rival Dixie County the following week at home.
“We just had more heart than they did,” said quarterback Stephen Cochlin when asked about the win over Taylor County where Williston trailed by 21 points three times in the game.
The first quarter of last week’s game was a “punch in the nose” for the Red Devils as Taylor County put up 21 unanswered points in the first six minutes of the game. Williston was able to score at the end of the first quarter after a 34-yard run by Cochlin and an eight yard scamper into the endzone by Neal.
The second quarter started like the first with Taylor County scoring again on a one play 70-yard scoring drive to their 6’5” Division One NCAA prospect wide receiver. Williston put up two more TDs in the second with rushing touchdowns by Neal and Cochlin, giving Taylor County a 33-18 lead at the half.
The resilience of the Red Devils’ defense came to life in the third quarter as the team made adjustments at the half and prevented any more big plays by the Bulldogs.
The offense in turn took advantage of their defense keeping them in the game and scored two more times in the third with both Neal and Cochlin scoring again putting the score at 31-33 Taylor County. A 55-yard kickoff return by Tay Hammonds to start the second half seemed to have turned the tide for the Red Devils and the game momentum was in Williston’s favor.
An offensive score in the fourth quarter by Neal gave Williston its first lead of the night at 37-33.
On the ensuing drive Taylor County turned the ball over with an interception by Hammonds that he returned for a touchdown. Williston now led by a score of 43-33.
Taylor County was able to put one more scoring drive together in the latter part of the fourth but this proved to be too little too late as Cochlin was able to sustain a drive and finish the game with two kneel downs as time expired.
“I couldn’t have drawn it up any better to have a win like this to lift the boys’ morale and boost their confidence. I am proud of the team’s courage to stay in this game and never quit on themselves,” said Coach Jamie Baker.