The Hawthorne football team was much closer to winning the school’s first state football title in school history.
But on Saturday night at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee, a special teams’ blunder led to a 13-12 Madison County win in Class 1A state championship game.
A bad snap led to Josues Knapp’s punt getting blocked by the Cowboys’ Tyrece Pryor and returned down to the 2-yard line with 8:05 to play in the game.
On the next play, Madison County quarterback Jamie Hampton ran it in from two yards out. Hampton’s 2-point conversion pass was incomplete, but Madison County led 13-12 with 7:59 to play in the fourth quarter.
The Hornets (10-1) were unable to score, and Madison County (11-3) won its fourth state title in the past five years.
Hawthorne, which lost to Baker in last year’s state championship game, had their chances early.
However, a pass intended for wide receiver Anthony Morgan inside the Madison County 10-yard line bounced off of Morgan’s hands and was intercepted by the Cowboys’ Jonathan Akins with 7:41 to play in the opening quarter.
Then, with 11:14 to play in the first half, Hornets’ quarterback Tyler Jefferson was stopped a half yard shy on 4 th down at the Madison County 30-yard line.
Jefferson, who finished the game with 111 yards on 19 carries, did put the Hornets on the scoreboard first. On 4 th -and-2, Jefferson raced 31 yards up the middle for a 6-0 lead with 7:38 to play in the half.
After Hampton completed a 9-yard scoring pass to Jahyren Lee with 2:42 to play in the half for a 7-6 lead, Hawthorne answered.
The Hornets marched down field and scored on a 10-yard run by Jefferson with 1:20 to play in the second quarter. Jefferson’s two-point pass play was incomplete, but Hawthorne led 12-7 at the half.
Madison County overcame 19 penalties for 145 yards.
Although they were also outgained by Hawthorne, 222-208, they forced three Hawthorne turnovers.