At times Friday night, the team that defeated crosstown rival with such ease just two weeks ago and the team that played last night were almost irreconcilable. Plagued by weak tackling and inconsistency on offense, the Hornets fell to the undefeated Johns Creek Gladiators by a score of 24-45.
Lead by senior baseball and football stand out Skye Overton, Johns Creek ran right past an eager Roswell team Friday night. Gashing Roswell for a total of 335 yards on the ground alone, Johns Creek rattled off 45 points against a now seemingly slumped Roswell defense.
Overton, who was anything but discreet on Twitter this week, set the pace of the game on the Gladiator’s first drive with a shocking 71-yard touchdown scramble. With over a third of Johns Creeks total yards, Overton amassed 111 yards on only 7 carries, three of which were touchdowns.
Johns Creek jumped on top of Roswell early Friday night, taking hold of a 14-point lead after just seven minutes of play. The Gladiators quickly built a frightening 24 point first half lead as the Roswell played poorly on both sides of the ball.
While the first half may have been more or less a disaster, the Hornets came out swinging in the third and fourth quarter. Bolstered by a strong second half defensive showing and an effective offensive unit led by starting quarterback Ryan Monty, the Hornets managed to slowly claw themselves back into a game that at one point looked completely lost.
For the majority of the game, the Hornets and Gladiators exchanged blows. Roswell would score, leading to a quick Johns Creek response. A field goal and two touchdowns early in the second half shortened the Gladiator lead to 14, but the Gladiators managed to hold off the second half Hornet resurgence.
After struggling to defend the run last week against Lambert, the Gladiators explosion on the ground Friday night presents a massive concern for a reeling Hornets defense. In the last two games alone, the Hornets have given up an astounding 606 rushing yards. Lambert and Johns Creek, two relatively talented running teams, combined to averaged 9.04 yards per carry against Roswell.
Another looming concern for the Hornets is the offensive line’s poor performance against Johns Creek. Kwateng had little room to run and Monty often found himself under distress, fleeing the pocket Friday. Snapping issues, especially in the special teams, also haunted the Hornets all night long. Two fumbles and a huge loss on a second half snap that sailed far over Monty’s head were a direct result of the snapping problems.
Coming off two weeks of limited pass attempts, quarterback Monty got a decent chance to air the ball out Friday night, and played exceptionally well. The two-year starter, who split time last year at the quarterback position, completed 19 of his 28 throws while throwing for a season, and possibly career, high 260 yards. The highlight of Monty’s night undoubtedly came in the third quarter when the senior threw an awing 36-yard touchdown pass to Bennett Barton to put the Hornets within two scores of Johns Creek.
While Monty’s performance was impressive, senior running back Andrew Kwateng struggled to get going on the ground Friday night. Kwateng, who paced the Roswell offense in the first two games, rushed for 112 yards, with a flat 4 yards per carry. That yardage is pedestrian for Kwateng, who rushed for a total of 424 yards in the first two games of the season. Whether Kwateng struggled because of the stifling Gladiator rush defense or a feeble night from the Hornets offensive line is uncertain, but Kwateng had noticeable trouble against Johns Creek. Nonetheless, Kwateng continued his senior season onslaught; having already collected 536 yards and five touchdowns in the first three games.
The scoreboard may lead several to believe that Johns Creek routed Roswell. However, the game in actuality was much closer than the final score may indicate. Several times throughout the second half Roswell came close to thwarting the Gladiator’s win, but failed. Despite giving up massive rushing yards, the Hornets defense still managed to force four turnovers against Johns Creek.
On paper, Friday night's loss against Johns Creek looks bad. And on paper, a 0-11 record last season looks even worse. But for a Roswell team that has been through all types of adversity, it has never been about what is on paper. It is about pride. And the Hornets, along with the entire passionate Roswell community, have plenty of that.