Roswell jumped on the Cherokee Warriors early Friday night at home in the Hornet’s Nest at Ray Manus Stadium and ultimately won the game, 34-6.
With the Warriors offense slowly driving the length of the field in the opening minutes of the first quarter, the Roswell defense halted the Cherokee attack in its tracks with a momentous turnover. A forced fumble, which was then scooped up by senior Grant Beidel and returned for a touchdown, may have very well changed the entire course of the game.
With seven points already on the board, Roswell’s star running back Andrew Kwateng broke a 69-yard touchdown run by tiptoeing down the Hornet’s sideline.
Up 14-0, Roswell never looked back. Aided by three defensive turnovers, the Hornets secured their second win of the season and first region victory in the newly aligned 6-AAAAA region.
Kwateng slowly paced the Hornets offense with surging bursts up the middle and scampers to the outside.
As of now, Kwateng’s future at the college level remains unclear. However, Kwateng has been rumored to be garnering interest from various ACC and Big10 programs. For the senior, playing at the next level is almost a foregone conclusion, especially with the season that he is having.
While Kwateng returned to his normal status Friday, the rest of the Hornets offense exploded on the field. Quarterback Ryan Monty was on point, his precision being much improved against Cherokee. Monty was the lifeblood of a potent Hornets offense Friday night, completing several long passes down the field and making more than a few clutch throws. With aid from Kwateng, Monty took control of the offense and was able to keep consistent drives alive with not only his arm but also his legs. Even behind the somewhat patched together offensive line, Monty might have had his best game of the season Friday night.
Much of the offense’s effectiveness this season has undoubtedly hinged on the play of the Hornet’s offensive line. Battered by injuries, the offensive line has struggled as of late. Inability to run block for Kwateng or pass block for the Hornet’s aerial attack has been detrimental to the Hornet’s offense in a whole. However, Friday night was a turning of the page for the offensive line. Dominating play by the line on offense was one of the key factors for the Hornets, who were direly in need of a win.
Possibly the biggest component of the victory Friday night was the outstanding play of the Roswell defense. Keeping Cherokee scoreless until the dwindling minutes of the fourth quarter, the Roswell defense overpowered the Cherokee option-run based game plan. In fact, this was the first time all season Roswell held an opposing team to a single digit point total, and the first time since the Centennial game that the defense did not surrender 19 points or more. The defense played extremely well in situational football Friday night, often stiff arming the opposing Warriors attack when they advanced past midfield or into the Roswell red zone. Big plays, which included three turnovers, energized the team and the entire Roswell crowd throughout the game.
For the Hornet’s, Friday was one of the few “complete” games the team has had all season. The Hornets came out firing on all cylinders and did not let up in the first half, adding two more touchdowns. Roswell has struggled with consistency all season, so Friday’s complete win against Cherokee was an extremely positive sign.
While there were many positives to dwell on from Friday night, the discipline of the team still remains in question. After an untimely personal foul ejection last week, the Hornets yet again found themselves on the wrong side of the officials. Sophomore Scott Simons was ejected late in the fourth quarter for what seemed to be flagrant personal foul. The causation of the ejection is unknown, but the fact that ejections are becoming a weekly thing for Roswell is juvenile. After criticism last week from Woodstock players and newspapers about their “dirty play style”, the ejection certainly does not help the Hornet’s paint a better self image.
With two weeks left in the season and now resting at 2-6, Roswell may not be completely out of the playoffs as some of us may have thought previously. However, Roswell might need a miracle to string together one win, let alone two wins, against their last two opponents.
Next week, Roswell will fly into Trojan territory to take on the 7-1 Lassiter squad. Led by a explosive passing offense and a stammering defense, Lassiter has been one of the best teams in the state this season, and is on the fast track to the state title.
Two weeks from now, Roswell will host 6-2 Walton at Ray Manus Stadium on Senior Night. Walton, led by the play of verbal Alabama commit Tyren Jones, was featured nationally this week on ESPN against the Milton Eagles and will pose a almost impossible task for Roswell.
Don’t be quick to count Roswell out. All the Hornets ask for is a chance to compete, and that’s what they will get. When the lights turn on Friday night, Roswell will be ready, no matter how daunting the challenge.