Starting the 2021 season with a new head coach, the Chillicothe Hornets looked to begin a new era with a bang following a disappointing 2020, which is what Chad Smith and the Hornets got on Friday night in Marshall.
Facing an Owls team that went 2-8 a season ago and had won two of their last three against Chillicothe, the Hornets jumped out to a 21-0 at halftime and coasted to the finish.
Chillicothe opened the game on offense, but both teams went scoreless in their first possession. Marshall, however, fumbled the snap on a punt, giving the Hornets possession at the Marshall 30-yard line.
Three plays later, senior fullback Damarcus Kelow plowed through the line from one yard out to put Chillicothe ahead 7-0 just under eight minutes into the game. Following another three-and-out from Marshall, the Hornets marched down a short field once again, moving 40 yard in four plays. Senior quarterback Gage Leamer scored from two yards out on the first play of the second quarter to extend the lead to 14-0.
Midway through the second quarter, the Hornets took over with their worst field position to that point, starting at their own 16 yard line. Chillicothe marched 84 yards though, and scored 18 seconds before halftime when Silas Midgyett beat two defenders around the right side for a six-yard touchdown run.
In addition to leading 21-0 at the intermission, the Hornets held the Owls to just 40 yards of offense and two first downs prior to halftime.
In the third, Chillicothe's offense slowed down, but in the later part of the quarter, the Hornets added on an additional TD. With a 4th and 1 at the Marshall six-yard line, Leamer ran a quarterback sneak, bounced off a tackle, and scored his second touchdown of the night, putting the Hornets up 27-0.
Marshall finally got their offense untracked late in the third quarter and entering the fourth. The Owls' first drive into the red zone ended in the final seconds of the third with an interception in the end zone from Max Wagers.
Marshall finally found the end zone with 8:29 to go in the game on a nine-yard touchdown run by Isaac Jackson and converted a two-point conversion. The Owls had another opportunity to score late, but that ended with a fumble inside the Chillicothe red zone with two minutes to go in the game.
The Hornets subsequently ran the clock out, securing a season-opening win, which marks their 23rd in their last 25 contests against Marshall.
Kelow lead the Hornets with 106 yards and a touchdown on just ten carries, all of which came in the first half. Midyett added 43 yards and a score as part of a balanced attack that saw ten Hornets log carries and rolled up 254 yards on the ground.
The Hornets will head home for their home opener on Friday, September 3 against Kirksville. The matchup will kick off at 7:00 and will be broadcast on UclickTV with Brennan Mense and Jim Bligh on the call.