With a win already locked away, Chester McCoy had the ability to look at the lighter side of Magoffin County’s take and give style Friday night.
“We’re just a generous bunch,” the Hornets head coach said of his team’s turnover and penalty infested play. “Since it was at their place we figured we would be hospitable.”
Penalties wiped out critical offensive gains throughout the game and turnovers gave Morgan County chances late as Magoffin County struggled to hold on down the stretch.
“We tried to give the game away,” a more serious McCoy said. “We’d have a penalty to stop ourselves or when we would turn them over we’d turn around and give it right back to them.”
But through it all, the Hornets managed to maintain a lead they had earned mid-way through the second quarter and eventually brought home a 24-20 victory over homestanding Morgan County.
“It’s a definite plus when you can do those things and still win, but we can’t keep making those types of mistakes,” McCoy said.
“We have some things we have to fix. We’re getting there. We still have work to do but we’re making positive strides and we just have to keep working and keep getting better.”
The Hornets, 2-1, fell behind early when, on the first play from scrimmage, Mitchell Harvey raced 45 yards for a score.
Magoffin County kept pace in the see-saw start, using a 70-yard seven play drive to tie and eventually take the lead when Jostan Helton shook loose for a 35-yard touchdown scamper and Austin Whitaker capped things off with a successful conversion run.
The Hornets, at the 2:28 mark of the opening period, owned an advantage only to see the rush minded Cougars roar back with an Adam Cooper touchdown run and a Kyle Havens conversion.
On the ensuing possession, Magoffin County mixed a Dillon Keeton 33-yard completion to Caleb Hall in with the running game and ended up with a Whitaker one-yard blast to paydirt.
The hard running freshman added another two-point conversion, giving the Hornets the 16-14 advantage they would take into the halftime break.
The Hornets stopped one Morgan County first half drive when they took over on downs on their own 30, stalled another with a fumble, and got another turnover when Tyler Holbrook intercepted a pass with 2:50 left.
And while taking a page out of the Cougar playbook, Magoffin County showed its true ability by starting the second half with a smashmouth drive that ended up being a game deciding march.
After four straight running plays, the Hornets ended up in the end zone when Helton, who finished with 161 yards and the two scores, ran 13 yards for a touchdown.
Whitaker again found paydirt on the conversion attempt, another outcome altering facet of Magoffin County’s overall effort, and with 10:20 showing on the third quarter clock the Hornets owned a 10-point lead.
Morgan County moved the football with ample success, but could only maintain one possession long enough to score.
Cooper, who finished with 131 yards on 10 carries, crossed the goal line at the 8:21 mark of the fourth quarter, trimming the deficit to just four, but that is as close as the Cougars could get.
Morgan County rushed for 391 yards, but in the second half the Hornets would step up and stop the Cougars after they had marched all the way to the 25.
The Hornets, who got 41 passing yards and 14 rush yards from Keeton, benefited from timely defense, including a fumble recovery that gave their offense the football on the Morgan County 37.
That drive, though, included two plays for lost yardage, a holding penalty, and a fumble that Ritchie Gray would fall on for Magoffin County.
Following Cooper’s touchdown, the Hornets got a pass interference call that took them from third and 12 to a first down on the Morgan County 39, but another holding penalty denied any further advancement.
The Cougars, getting 117 rushing yards from Jared Curd, again drove into Magoffin County territory before coughing the football up.
The Hornets, in turn, fumbled the pigskin back to Morgan County, which marched all the way to the Magoffin County 23 before being forced to give the ball up on downs with 1:13 left.
Magoffin County, which got the three fumble recoveries from Justin Wages, Andrew Benton, and Montana Bailey, held on over the final 73 seconds to seal the victory.
Senior linebacker Zach Litton was also strong defensively, recording three tackles for loss.
Keeton completed five of his 11 passes for 41 yards. Casey Adams and Caleb Hall had two receptions apiece with the other completion going to Helton.
The Hornets finished with a total of 270 yards, but allowed almost 400. The four forced turnovers, even though two were given back on the very next play, proved themselves to be Magoffin County game changers as well.