By Chris Siers
BELL BUCKLE — After struggling to find consistency on the offensive side of the ball in the first half on Thursday night against Huntland, the Cascade Champions (1-2) created a bit of their own luck with an onside kick and rallied for 14 third-quarter points to hold off the Hornets, 21-14.
“The first half, nothing changed from our game plan. We just had to get them playing where we wanted them to play and playing the right way. We switched some kids around. We had some guys playing new positions this week,” Cascade coach Jake Tyre said.
Huntland wasted no time putting the pressure on the Champs, forcing a three-and-out on the game’s opening drive, which prompted a punt that went just 12 yards, setting the Hornets up on the Cascade 45-yard line.
Eight plays later, Lashawn Kimmons broke into the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown run for the first score of the night.
Cascade answered the early strike, spreading the field with quarterback Damian Byford twice connecting with senior wide out Saebyn Burris before Sawyer Lovvorn rattled loose on a 25-yard jaunt to knot the score at seven apiece, following Gabe Perez’ successful kick after.
Huntland took over the following possession on its own 17-yard line, but marched an eight-play scoring drive, highlighted by a 32-yard pass fr
om quarterback Grant Jernigan to Caden Smith before Jarren Kinslow capped the drive with a 22-yard touchdown run to put the Hornets up 14-7 at the half.
Kinslow’s score came with 2:22 left in the first half, but Cascade seemingly found some rhythm on the following drive as the Champs moved into plus-territory as time continued to expire.
But a hold and an interception ended the Champs’ first-half threat.
In the first half, Huntland out-gained Cascade 187 yards to just 120.
Needing a spark on the offensive side of the ball, Cascade decided to create a bit of its own luck and opted for an on-side kick to open the second half, which was recovered by senior Aden Jordan at the Hornet 36-yard line.
Cascade then turned to Lovvorn to take a direct snap in the offense and he carried the ball four pla
ys on the drive before punching it into the end zone from one yard out to knot the game at 14 with 10:32 to go.
Cascade took advantage of another turnover on the following Hornet possession, this time with Kaden Hill recovering a fumble on the Cascade 37-yard line.
Again, Cascade utilized Lovvorn’s effectiveness at pushing the pile behind the Champion offensive line and it was a 19-play drive before Byford called his own number on a 1-yard bootleg to score the final touchdown of the night.
“He (Lovvorn) did a great job. We got in our heavy package and we were going to run him one play. He just did a good job there. The offensive line did a good job. If you get behind that beef that’s going to lay on you, they’re eventually going to wear you out. It showed tonight. I think it was a 19-play drive we scored on out of the half. That’s the kind of football I like,” Tyre said.
“I don’t know how many minutes it took off the clock, but I felt like we had it the whole third quarter and it gave the defense a chance to rest, too.”
Huntland ran just five offensive plays in the Champion-dominated third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Cascade forced two turnovers on downs to get off the field, but worked around a fumble near the five-minute mark to dodge any trouble.
After forcing a turnover on downs with 3:37 left, Cascade was able to utilize its potent run game and run the clock out to secure its first win of the season.
“We capitalized when we n
eeded to, but we still had a couple of turnovers that we have to clean up. Without a couple of turnovers, the score would probably look a little different up there. They (Huntland) had a good game plan against us. We have to get everybody in the right place,” Tyre said.
Lovvorn finished with 174 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns, while Cascade as a team cranked out 346 total offensive yards.
Thursday night’s game featured several players finding their way onto the field for some of their first meaningful varsity snaps.
“We had a sophomore that never played a varsity rep, other than special teams, came in and did a heck of a job at outside linebacker in the second half. We’re seeing people play on Mondays—I told them it will payoff for them and they will play some on Fridays. Definitely playing JV games is helping us right now,” Tyre said.
Following the short week, which also fell during the Walking Horse Celebration, Cascade will get back to a more normalized schedule next week as the Champions prepare to invade Unionville for the annual Battle of Bedford against Community.
Huntland 7 7 0 0 — 14
Cascade 7 0 14 0 — 21
H — Lashawn Kimmons 2 run, (Grant Morris kick), 5:26.
C — Sawyer Lovvorn 25 run, (Gabe Perez kick), 1:49.
H — Jarren Kinslow 22 run, (Morris kick), 2:22.
C — Sawyer Lovvorn 1 run, (Perez kick), 10:32.
C — Damian Byford 1 run, (Perez kick), :20.