The bad news for the top-ranked Roswell Hornets is they surrendered a season high for points allowed on Friday in front of the home crowd. The good news for them is that wasn’t nearly enough for the No. 6 Lassiter Trojans, who lost to Roswell 45-14 in the Region 4-AAAAAAA opener for both teams.
The Hornets (6-0, 1-0) took a big step toward earning a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs while handing the Trojans (5-1, 0-1) their first loss of the season.
Though the Hornets gave up just 14 points against a Trojans team averaging 30 points on the season, that was double the amount they’d previously given up. Their defense came into Friday with two consecutive shutouts and now average just five points allowed per game.
“Great defensive staff and great players,” Hornets coach John Ford said. “They work hard in the weight room and work hard on the practice field and they deserve everything they get. They’re certainly a strong unit.”
Highlights for the Hornets’ defense included a safety, an interception, five sacks for a total loss of 35 yards and two turnovers on downs.
The Hornets jumped to a 21-7 lead after the first quarter thanks to two long Turner Barckhoff field goals (41 and 42 yards), a team safety, a 25-yard touchdown pass from Malik Willis to Kentrell Barber and a 9-yard Sheldon Evans run. The safety came on the Trojans’ first play from scrimmage, when a high-snap from the 20 went over the quarterback’s head and was batted around until it went through the end zone.
Lassiter’s second play from scrimmage was an 80-yard touchdown pass from Bradley Riopelle to Kyle Syvarth, which pulled the score to 8-7 Roswell with 8:12 left in the first.
Roswell tacked on another touchdown in the second quarter on a 6-yard pass from Willis to Jayden Comma and the Hornets appeared headed into halftime with a healthy 28-7 lead.
However, with less than a minute left in the half, the Hornets fumbled on their own 20-yard line and Lassiter recovered. The next play, Riopelle threw a screen pass to Syvarth, who was behind the line of scrimmage. Syvarth then heaved a spiral to the end zone, where it was caught by a wide open Taz Holt for an 18-yard touchdown with 33 seconds left in the second quarter. That pulled Lassiter to within 28-14 heading into halftime.
But the Trojans wouldn’t score again and Roswell tacked on two more touchdowns and another Barckhoff field goal. Comma caught another touchdown, this one for 59 yards, and reserve Jujaun White put the exclamation mark on the game with a 3-yard run with 2:59 remaining to bring the score to its final margin.
Ford stressed the importance of beating Lassiter for the region win.
“You only have five region games so if you lose one you don’t have any margin for error,” he said. “If you lose once you’ve got to hope (the team that beat you loses) twice in the next four games and that’s probably not going to happen.”
Willis finished 10 of 24 passing for 132 yards and three touchdowns and added 88 rushing yards on 13 carries. Evans carried the ball 22 times for 141 yards and a score. Comma had two scores and 72 yards on three catches.
Riopelle completed 13 of his 30 passes for 192 yards and one touchdown to one interception, while Syvarth had three catches for 101 yards and touchdown plus the 18-yard touchdown pass.
The Hornets travel to Walton next Friday and the Trojans host Woodstock as region play continues.
Lassiter 7 7 0 0 -14
Roswell 21 7 10 7 - 45
R - Turner Barckhoff 41 FG
R - Team safety
R - Barckhoff 42 FG
L - Kyle Syvarth 80 pass from Bradley Riopelle (Carston Link kick)
R - Kentrell Barber 25 pass from Malik Willis (Barckhoff kick)
R - Sheldon Evans 9 run (kick failed)
R - Jayden Comma 6 pass from Willis (Barckhoff kick)
L - Taz Holt 18 pass from Syvarth (Link kick)
R - Comma 59 pass from Willis (Barckhoff kick)
R - Barckhoff 22 FG
R - Jujuan White 3 run (Barckhoff kick)