Offense, defense and special teams were the difference for Hawthorne on Friday night as the Class 1A Hornets stayed unbeaten with a 32-16 win at 5A Suwannee (Live Oak) at Paul Langford Stadium.
“We played pretty sloppy but we came out with a win against a great opponent in a hostile environment,” said Hawthorne coach Cornelius Ingram. “Defensively we played well, but we got in the red zone a few times and two of those times we were on the one-yard line and we didn’t punch it in, so we’ve got to finish, but like I said whenever you’re able to get a win against a great opponent, you take it.”
Quarterback Tyler Jefferson scored two first half touchdowns and added three 2-point conversions, plus the Hornets (5-0) got a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown from Chris Jonas in building a 24-10 lead at the half.
Suwannee (2-3) scored first on a one-yard touchdown run by Andrew Brown on 4th-and-goal with 1:51 to play in the opening quarter.
Hawthorne answered when Jefferson scored on a 4-yard run and added the 2-point conversion for an 8-7 Hawthorne lead just a minute into the second quarter.
Jonas’ return put the Hornets up 16-7 with 8:58 to play in the second quarter following another 2-point conversion run by Jefferson.
“My team got around the edge pretty good and set blocks for me and when I got it I just made the most of my opportunity,” Jonas said.
One of the highlights for the host Bulldogs was junior kicker Braxtyn Green’s 53-yard field goal in the second quarter. That made it 16-10 Hawthorne with 5:06 to play in the half.
However, Jefferson added a 6-yard scoring run and his third conversion of the half with 2:38 to play in the second quarter for a 14-point advantage at the break.
In the second half, Jonas made one of the biggest defensive plays of the night.
With the Bulldogs looking to make it a one-score game, Jonas intercepted a pass at the goal line on 4th-and-goal with 1:32 to play in the third quarter, protecting a 24-10 lead.
“I saw the tight end release so I stepped back and as soon as I stepped back the quarterback released the ball and I got the pick,” Jonas said.
Jefferson started at quarterback for the Hornets but Chaz Mackey got a considerable amount of playing time under center, which is the plan moving forward.
“We’re going to play them both every game,” Ingram said. “Both of them did something with their arm and their legs. Their special cats. They have a great relationship. They both understand what we’re trying to do. I’m proud of both of them.”
Brian James finished off the scoring for the Hornets with a 10-yard run with 1:31 to play in the game.
Suwannee will travel to Madison County next Friday, Oct. 8, while Hawthorne returns home for a Thursday night game against American Collegiate Academy (Clearwater).
To get more high school sports news and analysis, subscribe to Mike Ridaught’s free email newsletter.
This news brief is brought to you by Radiant Credit Union, giving youth the power to shine. Radiant is federally insured by the NCUA.