Chelsea nearly completes 28-point comeback against Homewood but falls 2 points short

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Special to the Reporter

CHELSEA – The Homewood Patriots held off a surging Chelsea Hornets team, 37-35, Friday night, Sept. 10 in Chelsea, as a dominant one-sided first half for the Patriots gave way to five second-half scores from the Hornets.

The first half was a tale of two teams: one offense firing on all cylinders and another that failed to make much progress.

Homewood scored on each of its four first half drives, the first two coming off quarterback runs from Woods Ray.

The third score saw Ray go to the air and find Charlie Reeves to cap off a 14-play, 90-yard drive, which was followed up with a two-play drive that saw JC Daniel enter the score sheet to extend the lead to 28-0. Ray ended the game with 401 all-purpose yards.

Meanwhile, Chelsea had no response to any of Homewood’s early success. The Hornets’ first two drives ended in a failed fake punt and an interception, and the Hornets failed to gain a first down on their third and fourth drives.

The Hornets passing game could not settle into a rhythm with many balls missing their targets, and numerous holding and unsportsmanlike conduct fouls called on both teams, with the Hornets taking most of the penalty yards, 135-95.

“Our message to our kids is we’ve got to be more mature, we’ve got to start faster, we’ve got to play clean ball, and we’ve got to play for four quarters in order to have a chance,” head coach Dustin Goodwin said after the game.

But in the second half, Chelsea started to play that way, and the script flipped.

It wasn’t an immediate impact, as Chelsea opened the third with a punt, but on Homewood’s first drive of the half, an offensive holding penalty forced third-and-28, and the first Patriots punt of the night.

On the punt, the Patriots punter had a hard time with the snap, which gave Chelsea’s Cooper Griffith the opportunity to block the kick and return it for a touchdown to lessen the gap to 28-7.

Homewood managed a field goal on its next drive to extend the lead to 31-7, which ultimately played a key role.

On Homewood’s next drive, after a defensive stop, Chelsea forced another put.

The Patriots’ special teams struggles continued with a high snap over the punter’s head that was recovered by Anderson Brooks for another special teams touchdown, making it 31-14.

Homewood responded with a rushing touchdown by Montrell Odell but missed the point after which only extended the lead to 37-15.

Chelsea responded emphatically on the first play of the next drive, when quarterback Hayden Garrison found MJ Conrad open deep for an 80-yard touchdown pass. A successful conversion by the Hornets put them down only 15 with 10:09 still to play in the fourth.

Homewood failed to advance the ball much on their next two drives, which were answered by an 88-yard score by Mac Gray on the first play of the drive and a rushing touchdown by Delise.

After Chelsea failed to convert on a 2-point conversion, a 28-point Patriots’ lead had shrunk to just two points with 2:14 left to play.

With time running out, Chelsea’s defense did exactly what it needed to do by forcing a three-and-out.

Chelsea strung together multiple passes to get into Homewood territory, but the Patriots didn’t let them into field goal range and a tackle as time expired ended the Hornets’ comeback hopes.

After the game, Goodwin hoped that his side would take lessons from their “self-inflicted wounds” in the first half and not just in their second half comeback effort.

“I hope we learned to prepare a little better, and to focus going into the football game. I thought we were a little too relaxed today in school and after school, and I hope our guys, you know, learn from that, and show up ready to play four quarters of football and not just wait till we have to play.”

Garrison finished the night with 298 yards and two touchdowns to lead Chelsea’s offense.