The Hornets' Chris Varner rushed for 288 yards and scored six touchdowns, setting a new school record for each. But, it wasn't strong enough for Hundred to get by county rival Paden City 46-40 in a barn-burner Friday, Sept. 21, at Cosgray Field in Hundred on Hornet Homecoming night.
The hosts won the toss and elected to receive, taking over at the Hornet 46 yard line when the opening kick went out of bounds.
Varner gained 10 yards on the first play of the game, and Eric DuPree would gain eight more on the very next play. Varner would get the Hundred first down on his next carry, before tossing an interception to the Paden City's Devin Price, who ran it back 20 yards.
Brandon Cross would move the chains on three straight 10-yard gains before being held to only four yards. Wildcat quarterback Zach Heasley would gain another four yards, setting up a third and short. However, in the shotgun position, the center's snap went over Heasley's head for a loss of 20 yards, setting up a fourth and 22.
Wildcat Head Coach Brent Croasmun went for it, and Heasley would find Kennedy Cain down the Wildcat sidelines for a 25-yard gain and a new set of downs. Cross moved the ball all the way to the one yard line for another Paden City first down. Despite another bad snap, Heasley waltzed in for the game's first touchdown. The conversion pass was incomplete.
After the ensuing kick, the combination of Varner and Isaac Efaw moved the chains twice. After an incomplete double reverse pass and a holding call, Varner gained 21 yards and move the chains again. The combination of Efaw and Varner would get the ball to the four yard line, before Varner would finish the drive off with a Hundred touchdown. Hundred did not convert on the PAT and the game was knotted at six.
Wildcat Craig Allen would bring back the opening kick to the 43 yard line, and Cross took Heasley's pitch to the house for a 57-yard TD scamper. Heasley would hook up with Cain for the two-point conversion pass and before you knew it, Paden City had a 14-6 lead over the Hornets.
Hundred started its next drive at the 18 yard line after a holding call. Paden City's Kyle Postlewait - in his first game of the season dropped Brandon White for a five-yard loss. Efaw would gain that back, however, and Cain would swat a pass down, forcing Hundred to punt.
`Varner's punt stopped dead at the Wildcat 18 yard line, but a Heasley-to-Cross pitch-and-catch, a Cross 20-yard run, and a Heasley-Cain 20-yard pass had the 'Cats knocking on the door once more. It didn't take long, as Heasley connected with Cain for a 20-yard TD pass play. Cross ran it in for two points and the rout was on. Or was it?
Allen recovered Hundred's ensuing kick, whereupon Heasley hooked up with Price for another PC touchdown. And, wham, bam, Paden City was up 30-6.
With 3:29 left in the first half, Cross would recover another kickoff. He would later score on a nice run and convert the two-point PAT to give the visiting Wildcats a 38-6 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Varner would take it to the house once more for Hundred, but a holding call wiped the score from the books. Varner would add a 20-yard run to end the first half.
Bidwell returned the second-half kick for Paden City and the combination of Cross and Heasley would get the 'Cats inside enemy territory. Price added an 11-yard end around for a new set of downs. However, Cross would cough up the ball and the Hornets' Logan Kuhn was Johnny-on-the-spot for the recovery.
Kuhn, White, and Kuhn again had the Hornets marching to its own 40 yard line and Varner took it the rest of the way to close the gap to 38-12 in the third period.
The Hornets' Kuhn would recover an onside kick, but failed to score. The Wildcats marched on for 80 yards, keyed by several nice plays. Cross capped off the drive with a 13-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter, extending the Wildcat lead to 46-12 after the Heasley-to-Cain two-point conversion pass.
Hundred botched the kickoff, but a phantom penalty of too many Wildcats on the field gave Hundred another chance to recover the kick. Paden City would recover, but the fired up Hornet defense held on to get back possession.
On Hundred's first play from scrimmage, Varner again found gold for the Hornets, time from 33 yards out, but they couldn't pick up the two-point conversion. Varner would add a 46-yard TD run on the first play after stripping the oval from Cross, and would then add a seven-yard touchdown scamper. Both times conversion attempts pulled Hundred to within six at 46-40 late in the game.
With 2:46 left in regulation, the Wildcats recovered a Hornet attempt at an onside kick and, after a Hornet late tackle, they were ready to punch it in. The Hornet defense held the 'Cats to a fourth and short and quickly took over with 1:31 left in regulation.
Hundred was flagged on two holding calls and had to start deep in their own territory. A Varner run recovered much of the lost yardage and, on the next play, he would try to pass over Cain's head to a wide open Kuhn. However, Cain, at 6'4, intercepted the attempt, allowing Paden City to run out the clock for an entertaining, 46-40 victory.
The Wildcats dressed only 14 players, as starters Luke Cooper, Dakota Gatian, Logan Carrol, and Kane Pyles were out with injuries. Numerous times, key Wildcat personnel went down with injuries and didn't have subs to put in until the medical staff got them back on their feet to play.
"This was by far the hardest game I have ever coached," said Croasmun. "We had to move payers around and put most of them in positions they have never played before. You've got to give our trainers all the credit in the world, they got the boys to where we could put them back in. They never gave up and played their hearts out."
For Hundred, it was a bitter pill. "The kids left everything on the field," said Hornet Head Coach Rex Rush. "They worked hard and can raise their heads up real high on how hard they fought,. You must give Chris Varner a lot of the credit. He put us on his back and made a game of it when it looked like it just wasn't going to happen. He broke the school record with 288 rushing yards and scored six touchdowns."
Besides Varner, White accumulated 78 yards rushing, Efaw tacked on 38 yards in two quarters, and both Kuhn and Dupree accounted for 10 yards.
White had 13 tackles to lead Hundred, while Efaw added six and Varner four, plus knocked down a pass and recovered a fumble.
For Paden City, Cross had 214 yards rushing and hauled in two passes for 24 yards and scored three touchdowns. Heasley added 38 yards on six carries, completing 7-9 passes for 1,163 yards and two TDs.
Cain hauled in three passes for 88 yards and a TD, while Allen tacked on 16 yards rushing. Bidwell rushed for 38 yards and caught a pass for 29 yards, while Price added 11 yards rushing and 50 yards receiving plus a touchdown.
Defensively, Willy Wilkerson, in his first game of the season led all tacklers with 15 stops, while Postlewait added 10 stops. Allen also had 10 tackles, while Cross decked eight Hornet ball carriers and recovered a fumble. Cain and Price each recorded interceptions.
It doesn't get any better for the Hornets. They must take on ranked Bishop Donahue at home Friday. The Wildcats will try to recover from all their injuries and take on the Cameron Dragons on Wildcat homecoming night Friday. Both games are set to kickoff at 7:30 p.m.