Hornets fall to 0-2

Tom Batters
Hornets’ defensive lineman Nick Syck (No. 17) rallies the team before the start of the game between Eureka/Roanoke-Benson and Rantoul Friday night. Syck assisted on three tackles and recovered a fumble. The Hornets lost, 58-7, to fall to 0-2. See Page 2B for more details.

It’s hard to stay positive when your team just lost, 58-7, in front of the home crowd, but that is what Eureka/Roanoke-Benson coach Brian Johnson said he will do.

“If you focus on the negative, after a game like this, then you’re done,” he said. “We’re going to stay positive. We’ll get back to work at practice, and try to get better. I like this group of kids. They have a lot of good football ahead of them.”

Despite the lopsided score, there were some positive signs for the Hornets, who controlled time of possession in the first half and showed flashes of how their offense can run and pass the ball.

The Hornets (0-2) orchestrated a seven-play drive, capped by a Christian Watson two-yard touchdown run, and trailed 13-7 with 7:54 left in the first half.

Prior to that drive, The Hornets moved the ball, and made seven first downs, but they could not put the ball into the end zone.

“We had the ball a lot longer than they did. When that happens, you are supposed to win, or at least be in position to win,” Johnson said. “But, our turnovers and mistakes hurt us.”

Rantoul scored on just its second play from scrimmage. The Eagles had three scoring drives that took less than three plays and used less than a minute of the clock.

“They hit us quickly,” Johnson said. “We have to do better than that on defense. We can’t allow a team to come right out and make big plays on us like that.”

The Hornets had the ball at the Rantoul four-yard line late in the first quarter for a chance to take the lead (they trailed, 6-0), but Cord Church intercepted Watson’s pass and ran it back 98 yards for a Rantoul touchdown.

The Hornets marched to the Rantoul 29 yard line on their next drive, but came up inches short on fourth down, so Rantoul took over on downs.

With 5:38 left in the first half, Joe Garvey intercepted Watson’s pass and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown.

“Those interception returns took the wind out of our sails,” Johnson said.

Rantoul added two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the half, to go into halftime with a 37-7 lead.

Rantoul needed just two plays and 44 seconds to score a touchdown to start the second half. Tyvon Davis, who rushed for 104 yards on only six carries yards, scored on a 31-yard run.

Rantoul needed just two plays to score on its next possession when Davis hit Carver Jackson for an 80-yard touchdown pass. Jackson caught the pass at midfield and broke one tackle before running untouched into the end zone.

Rantoul led, 51-7, at the end of the third quarter. Its final touchdown came on the second play of the fourth quarter (just 46 seconds into the quarter).

The Hornets fumbled on their next possession and Rantoul took over again.

Eureka made it to the Rantoul five-yard line on its final drive, but Kolton Merritt came up two yards short of a touchdown on a quarterback keeper as time ran out.

Watson rushed for 72 yards. He completed five of 10 pass attempts, with two interceptions.

He connected with Brandon Robbins for an 11-yard pass play in the first quarter.

The play was the first of three straight first downs in the drive that ended with the 98-yard interception return.

Ben Pintar, who rushed for 48 yards, also had two first downs in that drive.

“Ben had a good game,” Johnson said. “He never stops working hard. He’s a great kid. We have a lot of great kids on this team. They are working hard, and they have a great attitude. We’re all looking forward to getting back to practice, and getting better.”

The Hornets travel to Mahomet-Seymour this Friday.

Mahomet-Seymour is 2-0 after a 42-13 win over Prairie Central Friday night.

“They are the one of the best teams in our conference,” Johnson said. “We’ll have our work cut out for us. But, we’ll be ready to play.”