Hornets defense stops rival Oberlin

GRAND LAKE — The third-ranked Grand Lake Hornets had to fight for every scrap they could get Friday in a defensive battle to beat District 4-1A rival Oberlin 13-7 in a Class 1A regional playoff game.

“I don’t know if we did a lot of coaching tonight,” Grand Lake head coach Jeff Wainwright said. “It was a lot of energy from our kids and just gut and grit when they put their hands down.

“Oberlin is always a great opponent and we are all like brothers fighting over the last part of a Thanksgiving meal. It is always tough playing those guys. Hats off to Coach (Durrel) Peloquin and his team. Tonight we just outplayed them. This is a wonderful feeling out here. This was the dream all along — to play some real important games in Cameron Parish and get this football going.”

Grand Lake (10-1) scored twice in the second quarter but had to rely on its defense in the second half. Senior defensive lineman Bryant Williams had two tackles for a loss and a sack, and the Hornets held the Tigers to 139 yards of total offense, including minus-4 yards rushing in the second half.

“You can’t win like this without a defense,” Wainwright said. “Those guys stepped up and got after the quarterback. They made it miserable for the inside run. I think Bryant Williams had a heck of a game. He took away their inside run and made them one-dimensional toward the end of the third and four quarters.”

The Hornets’ offense didn’t fare much better as the Tigers held them to 201 yards and forced three turnovers. But the No. 14 Tigers (5-7) had turnover problems of their own, with one leading to the go-ahead touchdown.

“We had opportunities,” Peloquin said. “I am proud of our coaches and team. We competed for 48 minutes. They made a few more plays than we did, and they capitalized on opportunities when they came. But I wouldn’t trade this team for anything.

“Three turnovers tonight, that was huge, but we had a couple of turnovers on offense as well. In a tight game like this, and Grand Lake has such a good team, you have to play turnover-free.”

Tied 7-7, Grand Lake’s Brycen Guillory made an interception at the Tigers’ 38-yard line. On fourth-and-1 from the Tigers 4-yard line, Kobe Cionek got into the end zone for a 13-7 lead. Grand Lake didn’t get past the Tigers’ 30 the rest of the night.

Grand Lake started its first possession at the Tigers 8-yard line after a 70-yard kickoff return by Conner Guillotte, but the Tigers turned them away on a Zac McConnell interception. The Tigers went 73 yards in nine plays and twice converted on third down, including a 19-yard pass from Colby McMahon to Jordyn Artis with 4:41 left in the third quarter.

Grand Lake used a 70-yard drive to tie the score at 7-7 with 10:47 left in the second quarter on Brent Hardesty’s 4-yard run. Hardesty finished with 53 yards on 13 carries, while Cionek picked up 83 yards on 23 carries.

Grand Lake didn’t score in the second half but controlled the clock, holding the ball for just over 14 minutes.

Dominique Eaves led Oberlin with 74 yards on 13 carries.

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