Defense leads Catawba County in home-opening win
The Catawba County Hornets’ home opener was delayed a week because of the heavy rain in the area last week.
Two weeks was worth the wait.
The Hornets defense forced four turnovers in a 32-12 victory against the Carolina Hawks at Westside/Jaycee Park.
Hornets cornerback Brian “Turner Island” Turner intercepted two Hawks passes in the first quarter and returned them both for touchdowns.
However, both scores were negated by penalties on the Hornets.
Turner tried to improve his play on Saturday after making a mistake in the team’s road opener against the Upstate Vikings.
“I had to make up for two weeks ago and giving up a touchdown,” he said. “I had to come out here and prove myself as one of the elite corners in the league. I came out here with a different mindset and focused on making some plays for the team.”
Three minutes into Saturday’s game, Catawba County (2-0) took a one-score lead.
Hornets quarterback Brandon Streater found running back Jaurice Haynes for an eight-yard touchdown pass, making it 6-0 after the missed extra point.
Streater, who suffered a chest contusion two weeks ago, added his second touchdown 48 seconds into the second quarter.
His two-yard run made it a 12-0 advantage for Catawba County.
Trying to rest Streater’s injuries, Hornets back up quarterback Jason Kennedy entered the game, but would be intercepted on his team’s next drive.
Starting at the Hornets two-yard line, the Hawks (0-3) got on the scoreboard when quarterback Montrez Hayes plunged in to the end zone.
Catawba County led 12-6 at the break.
Hornets coach and owner Doug Frye said Streater’s absence may have cost his team early, but his strategy paid off.
“Brandon was a little hurt, so we were trying to let him rest a little bit, get a burst of enery and go in again,” Frye said. “It worked out alright. He felt good. He should be alright for the rest of the year.”
The Hawks started the second half with three-straight first downs, but were unable to capitalize and tie the contest.
After getting the ball back on an attempted fake punt, the Hornets offense made the Hawks pay.
Running back Aaron Rainey took the opening play of the drive 15 yards up the middle of the field.
Three plays later, Kennedy found Haynes for a 35-yard touchdown strike.
On the ensuing drive, Catawba County’s defense showed its dominance again.
Linebacker Tommy Henry forced and recovered a Carolina fumble for his team’s third caused turnover of the game.
“We are on every game,” Henry said of the Hornets defense. “This is the best defense in the league. We just have to stay consistent. Hands down, there is no defense better than us. We scored three touchdowns tonight. Two of them got called back. Our defense comes to play every game.”
Streater was back to his old form by the end of the third quarter, finding wideout Dustin Metts for a 20-yard pass-and-catch.
The Hawks tried to cut into their deficit to start the third quarter with an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Pierre Brown.
Just when the Hawks tried to seize momentum, Catawba County’s defense was back to its old tricks.
Henry and Kyle Loftin helped cause one more Hawks fumble, which was scooped up by linebacker Dominique Ferguson and returned 48 yards for the game’s final score.
The Hornets defense has now scored in every game this season.
“When we make the right calls and everyone plays their position, good things happen,” Ferguson said. “One of (Turner’s) touchdowns that got called back was because of my fault. I felt like I had something to prove.”
The Hornets are back in action on Saturday when they travel to take on the Triangle Nighthawks in a non-league game.
The game in Raleigh is set for 8 p.m.