Hornets run over Austin LBJ for area title

Nov. 17—WACO — Huntsville football will extend its season through the Thanksgiving break after the Hornets routed Austin LBJ in the Area Round.

Huntsville's sophomore running back Trae'Shawn Brown set the tone in the first quarter for the Hornets with a 61-yard rushing touchdown that opened up the scoring. Huntsville claimed the area round title with a 54-28 win over the Jaguars.

The Hornets won the game in all three phases with the offense rallying for eight touchdowns with six different members finding the end zone.

Huntsville will advance to the regional quarterfinals for the first time since the 2020 season.

"I thought we played about as good of football as we could have played in the first half," Huntsville head coach Rodney Southern said. "When you get in these situations, you want to be able to play as many guys as you can. It got sloppy at the end and I didn't like that. Overall, against a pretty good football team, I thought it was a good night."

The Hornets got out to a fantastic start on defense. Austin LBJ was held to a three-and-out that gave the Hornets the ball and an opportunity to start the scoring fest. The Hornet defense was on a tear as they forced three straight punts, but the Jaguars with the offense scored on each drive.

Huntsville's defense didn't allow LBJ to cross midfield until its fifth drive with the ball. While it started to look good, senior safety Cole Schroder had different ideas and intercepted the ball. Two drives later, junior Mu'Koryc Normal came up with an interception as well.

One thing that Huntsville did extremely well, like most of the year, was to make open-field tackles and not let opposing playmakers get open in space.

With a shutout through the first half, the Hornets did get a bit inconsistent on defense as second-string players started to come in.

"Overall, I thought we tackled great in the first half and I think our coaching staff did a good job of coming up with a couple of things that we did defensively," Southern said. "When you get pressure on the quarterback, hopefully he throws it up."

With a defense playing lights out, the Hornet offense matched. The Hornets scored on their first four drives giving them a 27-0 lead in the first half with 8:26 left until halftime. The Hornets saw a mix of running backs in Trae'Shawn Brown, David Brown and freshman Ja'Khavien Birks.

Birks played a pivotal role for the Hornets as he scored in his varsity debut.

One thing that made it work was the way Huntsville's offensive line played and was able to create holes for the backs that struggled last week against Texas City.

"I think they did a good job on the perimeter and Jerious and Bryan did a good job blocking as tight ends," Southern said. "Our running backs consistently hit the hole downhill running. Our O-line has been consistently inconsistent at times. Tonight they were consistent the whole time."

With a run game that went off, junior Austin Taylor had something to work with. Taylor found tight end Jerious Singletary for a 17-yard touchdown and then found Trae'Shawn for an nine-yard touchdown to add to the scoring.

Huntsville scored eight touchdowns in the game and failed to convert on two separate occasions in the red zone, including a failed fake field goal.

"Sometimes you have to take what people give you and we felt like defensively we could make enough plays to make this a good one," Southern said. "You want your kids to perform and I think we did that. I'm disappointed we got in the red zone twice and didn't get points. Overall, it was a pretty good night."

With the Hornets heading back to the third round for the first time since 2020, they have a general idea of the team they will be facing.

The Hornets will match up against district opponent Richmond Randle for the second time this year. The Lions grabbed a 35-6 win over the Hornets in the regular season finale, but now the stakes are raised even higher.

"We have to go back and look at what we did against them and not do it again," Southern said.