For the Catawba County Hornets, the strongest storm came after their game on Saturday.
The Hornets (3-1) scored 28 straight points against the Virginia Storm on their way to a 44-14 victory in the Central Carolinas Football League — the team’s third league win of the season.
The win comes one week after a frustrating 38-14 home loss to the Iredell Warriors, in which the Hornets’ turnovers and lack of scoring doomed them. Neither of those happened Saturday.
Catawba County scored six touchdowns, committed no turnovers and racked up 410 yards of rushing offensive against the Storm (2-2).
Leading the charge for the Hornets were quarterback Jamelle Jeffries and running back/linebacker Tommy Henry. The duo combined for five of Catawba County’s six touchdowns in Saturday’s game, including two through the air by Jeffries and a combined three on the ground.
“Our line blocked a whole lot better this week,” Jeffries said. “We got more plays off than we did last week. We also changed the offense. That’s basically what it was. We had some good practices.”
The Hornets took control of the game in the first quarter. After an impressive 45-yard run, Jeffries, a former St. Stephens standout, delivered a 20-yard strike to receiver DeMario Garvin to make it 8-0 after a two-point conversion.
Virginia quickly answered at the 3:28 mark of the first quarter. On third down and long, quarterback Kenny Price delivered a 49-yard pass to Stephon Jennings. The Storm converted on their two-point conversion to tie the game.
It was all Hornets from there. A long 83-yard touchdown pass from Jeffries to Garvin was wiped out late in the first quarter, but Catawba County wasn’t denied. The Hornets scored in on a one-yard touchdown run by Jeffries with 7:47 left remaining in the first half.
Eric Lipford added another score with a 7-yard catch from Jeffries with 0:17 remaining.
Jeffries finished the game completing 6-of-12 passes for 90 yards and had eight rushes for 98 yards on the ground. He credited his team’s success with the implementing of a new offensive scheme.
“We used all of our athletes in the offense,” Jeffries said. “We spread the ball around to all of them, and it worked.”
An interception thrown by Price in the waning moments of the second quarter nearly cost the Storm again. Chris Spikes intercepted the pass and returned it 81 yards, but was dragged down inside the 10-yard line to end the first half.
JonCues Corpening made a second interception to set up the Hornets in great field position early in the second half.
Henry capitalized on the ground, scoring from seven yards out. Henry, a former star at Maiden, also converted on a two-point conversion to make it a 28-8 Hornets lead.
Henry wasn’t done yet, scoring 1:03 into the fourth quarter on a 3-yard run. After a two-point conversion, Catawba County dominated with a 36-8 lead.
Henry said he felt some changes in his team’s defense also helped his team succeed against the Storm.
“We ran some defensive schemes we hadn’t run before,” Henry said. “We were trying to change some things up. We got it going right.”
The Storm didn’t go down without a fight, as Price connected with Tim Witcher on a 45-yard pass following a missed interception opportunity by the Hornets’ Greg Covington.
Catawba County added one final score, an impressive 60-yard run by Darrin Burch, who finished the game with a team-high 120 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Jeffries led the Hornets with 117 all-purpose yards, including 79 rushing yards, 38 passing yards and three touchdowns. Henry rushed for 10 yards and two touchdowns.
The Hornets hit the road next week after playing two consecutive games at home. Catawba County takes on the Carolina Chargers, a team who defeated the Rowan Rampage on Saturday, 46-6, to improve to 2-1.
“They spread the ball around,” Henry said. “We have to do the same types of things we did today. It is going to be a game, but they better be ready to play.”