For most of the first half, the No. 8 Roswell Hornets dominated its season-opening game at Collins Hill over the unranked Eagles. The Hornets, who knocked out Collins Hill 30-27 in double overtime in last year’s playoffs, lived in Eagles territory for most of the first half, yet only had a short field goal to show for three trips inside the Collins Hill 20-yard line. A Hornet fumble on the one and a missed field-goal attempt kept Collins Hill in the game early and Score 44 member Taylor Heinicke took advantage. The Collins Hill QB hit Nick England on a 51-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 7-3 halftime lead. In the second half, Roswell once again dominated time of possession early, even taking a 9-7 lead with two more Ty Long field goals (41 yards, 35 yards) before Heinicke was at it again.
After a miraculous catch gave the Eagles first-and-goal at the two, it took three quarterback sneaks before Heinicke broke the plane for the go-ahead score. The two-point conversion was no good, but Collins Hill suddenly had a 13-9 lead with less than five minutes to play.
Roswell started its final drive on its own 25 but could only reach the Collins Hill 39 before a fourth-and-four pass was dropped by a Hornets receiver. A three-and-out left Roswell with one play and 12 seconds to heave a “Hail Mary” 62 yards, but Hornet QB J.P. Douglas could not get a pass off as Travis Parker sacked Roswell out to ice the game.
If not for penalties and costly turnovers, the Hornets would have walked away with a big road victory. The Hornets racked up 276 yards to Collins Hill’s 231 and the ground attack of Roswell is certainly one that could keep them playing late in November. Martez Sumler had 61 yards on 15 first-half carries, but it was his costly fumble on the one that kept the Hornets to only three points early. In the second half, Andrew Kawteng took over and finished with 16 rushes for 92 yards. He was a man possessed at times, but he couldn’t get clutch yards late.
On the other side, Heinicke did enough to warrant his coach calling him the best he’s had in his 23 years. Kevin Reach won his first game as a head coach and he can thank his quarterback’s moxie and his poise. Heinicke was a perfect 7-7 in the first half and finished with 168 yards and two touchdowns.