Returning to the Stable after two straight road trips, the Cascade Champions (4-0) struggled with the run game of the Huntland Hornets (1-2) coming out of the gates.
Eventually, Cascade was able to orchestrate its own game plan and secure the 28-17 non-region win.
The Hornets began the first drive of the night on their own 34-yard line.
Huntland appeared to be in position to chew up the entire first quarter on the ground with 13 rushes for 53 yards.
The Champions stood their ground on defense forcing a turnover on downs deep in their own territory, but not before the Hornets drained eight minutes and 11 seconds off the clock.
“That first drive, they were gashing us really badly,” Champions’ head coach Jake Tyre said.
Adding insult to injury, the Champions fumbled the snap on the ensuing drive, gifting the Hornets prime field position.
Less than a minute later, defense came through for the Champions once more, recovering a fumble inside the red zone.
Mistakes continued offensively with a fumble four plays later in the Hornets favor.
To close out the first quarter, the Hornets punched it in on a three-yard run by senior Ethan Cook.
“We had too many turnovers tonight. We shot ourselves in the foot too much,” Tyre said.
“It wasn’t because we got stopped, we just didn’t come out and execute.”
The Champions offense caught a spark on the next drive as senior Ryan Inmon connected with Xamarion Dixon on a 24-yard strike on fourth down.
Three plays later, Drake Hodge lined up for a lengthy, 41-yard field goal that came up short.
On the next Champions’ drive, Inmon put the offense on his back with 12 yards through the air and 21 on the ground including the first TD of the night from a yard away.
The Hornets carried a 10-7 lead into the half.
Huntland struck first in the second half after the Champions fumbled on the kickoff, but the Champions answered five short minutes later.
Elijah Arnold lined up under center on the goal line, sneaking it in from a yard out.
From there, the Champions took over the game.
“I told the kids at halftime, ‘we can’t wait for them to come. We have to make our own,”’ Tyre said.
“We have to continue to get better, and make our own breaks.”
Inmon continued his dominance from the quarterback position piling up 127 rushing yards and 132 passing yards for the game with two scores on the ground.
Defensively, the Champions’ halftime adjustments proved successful as they held the Hornets scoreless after the 9:53 mark.
“The defense played really well all night. We gave them short fields too many times,” Tyre said.
“Once the defensive line buckled down, we were able to get our linebackers free. In the second half, we got a whole lot better with it.”
Connor Huie added the final touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter, securing the Champions 28-17 win.
Three Champions’ accounted for 10-plus tackles on the night. Arnold racked up 13 himself with Blake Olive and Dylan Crouch both securing 10 a piece.
On the radar for the Champions are the Richland Raiders for a road Region 5-AA matchup.
“They (Richland) are much improved. We just have to come out and not be sloppy. We can’t get a big head,” Tyre said.
“The good thing about a close win like tonight is you know you have things to work on.”
Cascade 0 7 7 14 — 28
Huntland 7 3 7 0 — 17
H — Ethan Cook 4 run, (Kick), :10.
C — Ryan Inmon 1 run, (Drake Hodge Kick), 4:00.
H — Grant Morris 19 field goal :20.
H —Trace Morris 4 pass from Eli Wiggs, (Kick) 9:53.
C — Elijah Arnold 1 run, (Hodge Kick) 4:38.
C — Ryan Inmon 52 run, (Hodge Kick) 5:17.