MERTZON— The Irion County Hornets forced the Mercy Rule in their season finale against the Veribest Falcons, 86-38, on the way to a district championship.
The Hornets are indeed again district champions under first year head coach Shawn Harrison when they stung their way to victory against Veribest. Irion County started hot on the first offensive play of the game when Wyatt Morris found Colton Lawdermilk for a 43-yard touchdown pass to go up 8-0 quickly.
Veribest’s super sophomore Bryce Martin then bashed in a 3-yard score with 6:15 left in the first quarter to tie up the game. The Hornets drove the ball quickly down the field on the next possession where Lawdermilk crossed into the endzone to put the Hornets ahead 14-8 with 4:58 left in the first quarter.
A great defensive effort by Parker Posey and Keegan Wadsworth forced a turnover on downs then Kyle Olivan caught a 17-yard touchdown from Iyran Davis to make the score 22-8 with about 2:24 left in the opening quarter.
Posey would recover the onside kick with 2:20 on the clock and on the ensuing Hornet drive Lawdermilk would fumble the ball and the Falcons’ AC Natividad would recover. Veribest would convert on fourth down and then Martin would finish off the drive with a huge 51-yard touchdown as time ran out on the opening quarter. The Falcons ended the first quarter down 16-22 behind the Hornets.
With 9:22 second left in the first half, Iyran Davis would be picked off by Hunter Hallmark of the Falcons on a pass that was intended for Tyler Henderson. Good defensive coverage by Lawdermilk ended the next Veribest drive and Morris would cap off the drive with a 20-yard touchdown to move the Hornets to 28-16 with 5:51 left in the first half.
Irion County’s James Crutchfield would recover the kickoff and Lawdermilk would finish the drive with a 36-yard touchdown. Now, the Hornets are closing in on the mercy rule, 36-16 with 5:41 left in the half. A tremendous defensive effort led by Wadsworth and Olivan forced a Veribest turnover on downs and, on the Hornet’s offensive possession, Davis found Major Conners for a 37-yard touchdown on fourth down with 1:46 in the half go to. The score is now 44-16 in favor of Irion County, now up 28 points.
Irion County forced another turnover on downs and with 57 seconds remaining in the half, Morris rushed for another touchdown, this time from 35-yards out go put the Hornets at 52-16 over the Falcons, which would be the score at the half.
The Veribest Falcons would not go down without a fight and Martin made that very clear on the opening possession of the second half. With 9:32 left in the third quarter, he broke off a 40-yard touchdown to make the score 52-24.
Veribest then attempted a surprise kickoff that was returned by Lawdermilk to the 20-yard line. On the drive, Morris busted out a 20-yard score to put the Hornets at 58-24 over the Falcons with 9:16 left in the third quarter. Then, with 7:35 left in the quarter, Veribest’s Martin shook off a would-be tackler and threw the ball back across the field where the Hornet’s Olivan intercepted the ball and ran it 21-yards back for a touchdown. Now, the score is 64-24 with the Hornets up 40, needing only five points to end the game.
Again, the Falcons’ Martin fought back, scoring from 41-yards out with 7:22 left in the third quarter to make the score 64-32. With 5:21 remaining in the third frame, Veribest had the ball and Martin found Peyton Larson for an 18-yard score. The Falcons are climbing out of a hole now, making the score 64-38.
The hive came alive with 3:47 left when Irion County’s Morris again found the endzone from 35-yards out to make the score 72-38. Then, Wadsworth recovered the kickoff for the Hornets and Lawdermilk bashed in another touchdown from 1-yard out to make the score 80-38 with 3:23 left in the third quarter.
In the closing minutes of the third, the Falcons were in a bind on 4th and 16. Hallmark had the ball and found Larson for the huge conversion to keep Veribest at least in the game. But after the conversion, Hallmark lateraled the snap back to Martin who had Henderson and Wadsworth closing in on a huge tackle for loss. Martin loaded up a pass intended for Hallmark that was picked off by Olivan. The third quarter ended with the Hornets driving to end the game.
On the opening play of the final quarter, Davis took the snap and handed the ball off to Morris who rushed down the Veribest sideline for a 31-yard touchdown to win the game, 86-38.
Irion County Head Coach Shawn Harrison had this to say after the game.
Now, the district champion Irion County Hornets will take on the May Tigers for a fourth time in the bi-district round of the playoffs. Last year, the Hornets/Tigers game was an instant classic with Irion County sending the Tigers home with a score of 104-91.